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Title: Greater Greece and Greater Britain; and George Washington the Great Expander of England - Two Lectures with an Appendix
Author: Freeman, Edward Augustus
Language: English
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  Greater Greece and Greater Britain               1
  George Washington, the Expander of Britain      66
  Appendix                                       104




Two Lectures

With an Appendix



Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford

Macmillan and Co.

[All rights reserved]


Printed by Horace Hart, Printer to the University


These two lectures were given quite independently, the former to the
Students’ Association at Edinburgh on December 22nd, 1885, and the
latter as a public lecture in the University of Oxford on Washington’s
birthday, February 22nd, 1886. As they were written for two different
audiences, and as one leading idea ran through both, there was
naturally a good deal of repetition, sometimes even to the very words.
This I have, in revising them for the press, done my best to get rid
of. They appear now as two discourses, looking at the same general
subject from two somewhat different points of view, and each putting
different points more prominently forward. To these I have added,
as an Appendix, such parts as were not immediately temporary of an
article which appeared in Macmillan’s Magazine for April, 1885, under
the heading of “Imperial Federation.” In this article, written only to
be read and not to be heard, some points which were treated in a more
rhetorical way in the lectures are dealt with in a style of more minute
argument. It seemed therefore to make a fitting commentary on the

  _April 7th, 1886_.


The name of Greater Britain is one which of late years has become
strangely familiar. It is possible that a generation back the words
might have fallen harshly on patriotic ears. We were then used to
believe that the Britain in which we lived was so great that there
could be none greater. The name of “Great Britain” was perhaps used
without any very clear notion of its history; but it was at least
accepted as implying greatness of some kind. Whatever may have been
the exact meaning with which the name of “Greater Britain” was first
brought in, it was, we may be sure, suggested by the seemingly older
phrase of “Great Britain.” Those who first spoke of “Greater Britain”
perhaps hardly knew that the name is as old as that of “Great Britain,”
and, more than this, that “Great Britain” and “Greater Britain” are
in truth phrases of exactly the same meaning. I would not venture
to say how much older the name of “Magna Britannia” may be than its
somewhat irregular employment in the royal style by James Sixth and
First. But “Greater Britain,” “Major Britannia,” is undoubtedly as old
as the twelfth century. We perhaps sometimes forget that, besides this
our isle of Britain, there is another Britain on the continent, no
other than the land which, by a slight change of ending, we commonly
call Britanny. But in Latin and in French the two names are the same,
_Britannia_ and _Bretagne_. The one land is _Bretagne_, the other
is _Grande-Bretagne_; the one is _Britannia minor_, the other is
_Britannia major_. In short, the Britain of the island, the Great or
Greater Britain, was so called simply to distinguish it from the Lesser
Britain on the mainland.

Here, be it remarked, the Greater Britain is the older, the Lesser
is the younger; the Greater is the mother-country, the Lesser is the
colony. The Lesser Britain of the mainland never took that name till
it was settled by men fleeing from the Greater Britain in the island.
Now in the sense in which we have of late years heard the phrase
“Greater Britain,” all this has been turned the other way. “Great
Britain” is not simply opposed to a Lesser Britain; it is opposed to a
Britain which is confessedly great, but, it would seem, not so great
as the Greater. And of these the one which is simply Great is the
elder; the Greater is the younger; the Great is the mother-country, the
ruling country; the Lesser is the plantation, the dependency, or rather
an aggregate of plantations and dependencies all over the world. The
change, the contrast, between the old use of “Major Britannia” and the
new use of “Greater Britain” is so very singular that one is driven to
ask whether those who brought in the new use ever had the old one in
their thoughts at all.

But the question becomes more curious still when we bear in mind that
there was in a distant age of the world an use of a kindred phrase
which is strikingly like, not the old, but the new use of the phrase
“Greater Britain.” As there was a Greater and a Lesser Britain, so
there was, perhaps not a Lesser, but assuredly a Greater Greece. And
the Greater Greece did not answer to the “Major Britannia” of our older
use, but to the “Greater Britain” of our newer. The Greater Greece
was not an older Greece from which settlers went forth, as they went
forth from the Greater Britain of old, to found a younger and a lesser.
The Greater Greece, like the Greater Britain of modern times, was an
assemblage of settlements from the elder Greece which were deemed, or
deemed themselves, to have become greater than the mother-country. The
Great or the Greater Greece (Ἡ μεγάλη Ἑλλάς, _Magna Græcia_, _Major
Græcia_) became the received geographical name for the Greek colonies
in Southern Italy. And they may be thought to have deserved the name
in that short and brilliant time when those colonies distinctly
outstripped the mother-country, when Sybaris and Tarentum ranked among
the greatest cities of the earth, more brilliant and flourishing,
beyond doubt, than Athens or Sparta or Corinth or any other of the
cities of the older Hellenic land.

As in the former case the contrast, so in this case the analogy, is so
striking that we again cannot help asking whether those who brought in
the modern phrase of “Greater Britain” ever had it in their minds? One
point of unlikeness however must be mentioned. By “Greater Britain”
seems now to be commonly meant the whole aggregate of the scattered
colonies and dependencies of the Great or Lesser Britain--those
names have in the new use become synonymous--all over the world. But
the name Greater Greece by no means took in all the scattered Greek
colonies all over the world; it was confined to a single group of
them. The name seems hardly to have spread from Southern Italy even
to the neighbouring island of Sicily; it was certainly never applied
to the Greek settlements in Asia or Libya or any other part of the
world. Indeed the name had a peculiar fitness as applied to the Greek
settlements in Southern Italy which it could not have had elsewhere.
The geographical structure of the land enabled Southern Italy to put
on the character of a second Greece in a way in which none other among
the lands in which Greeks settled could put it on. Everywhere else out
of old Greece there was merely a Greek fringe along the coast. For the
Greek settlements were planted mainly on islands and promontories,
along the coasts of solid continents the inland parts of which remained
barbarian. Even in Sicily the Greek settlements strictly so called were
little more than a fringe; the inland parts of the island did indeed in
the end become Greek; but it was not by real Greek settlement, but by
the spread of the Greek tongue and of Greek culture among men of other
nations who became Greek by adoption. In Southern Italy alone, the
shape of the land, branching off into two narrow peninsulas, enabled
Greek settlement to become something more than a fringe on the coast,
and to spread, as in the older Greek land, from sea to sea.

Thus then there were two lands, an older and a newer, in which it might
be said, at all events at the first aspect, that the whole land was
Greek. No doubt there was this difference, that in the older Greece all
was, as far as we can see, Greek in the strictest sense, while in the
younger Greece much was Greek only by assimilation and adoption. In
the older Greece, if any relics lived on from times and people older
than the first Hellenic settlements, they had been assimilated to the
Greek mass before recorded history began. The existence in old Greece
of any people earlier than the Greeks is matter of legend, of guess,
of scientific inference, not matter of direct evidence. In the younger
Greece of the Italian colonies, the existence of earlier inhabitants
whom the Greeks found in possession, and who long lived on by the side
of the Greeks, is as certain as the existence of earlier inhabitants in
our own American and Australian colonies. But the earlier inhabitants
whom the Greek settlers found in Southern Italy were indeed unlike
those whom the English settlers found in America and Australia. Not
very far removed, so some have thought, from the Greeks in blood, in
any case belonging to the same great branch of the human family, the
nations of the extreme south of Italy, like their neighbours of Sicily,
had a special power of adapting themselves to Greek ways, of adopting
Greek culture, of making themselves in short Greeks by adoption. They
did not die out before the new settlers, like the savages of America
or Australia; they were able to rise to the higher civilization of
the strangers who settled down among them, and to become members of
the same body. This is one of the most marked differences between
the old Greek settlements and the settlements of modern Europeans.
The settlements of different European nations have taken different
courses, but there has been nothing exactly answering to the process
by which so large a part of the barbarian neighbours of the old Greek
colonies became adopted Hellênes. In the case of our own settlements,
the spread of British settlement or dominion has meant either the
gradual dying out of the native races, as in America or Australia, or
else, as in India, their survival as a distinct and subject people.
In no case have English settlers mingled to any important extent with
the native races; in no case have the natives to any great extent put
on the outward seeming of Englishmen. Something more like this result
has taken place in the colonies of Spain. There the mingled race, the
natives of unmixed race who have adopted at least the Spanish tongue,
are important elements which have nothing answering to them in the
colonies of England. The nearest approach to these elements to be found
in any English colony must be looked for in the grotesque imitation
of English ways where real assimilation is impossible. This we see,
not on the part of the barbarians whom the English settlers found
dwelling in the settled lands, but on the part of another race of
barbarians whom they afterwards imported for their own ends. The negro
of the Western continent and islands has truly nothing answering to
him in any part of the Hellenic world. And, in the other case, while
the process which made Sicily and Southern Italy Greek was mainly the
raising of the older inhabitants to a higher level, the process which
has made a large part of America in some sort Spanish has been largely
the sinking of the European settler to a lower level. In the Greek and
in the English case, it has been the higher civilization of the time
that has been extended, and that by milder means in the Greek case than
in the English. In the Spanish case we can hardly say that the highest
civilization has been extended. If one race has risen, the other has
fallen. This result nowhere took place in the Greek settlements, even
where the Greek settlers, while communicating so much to the older
inhabitants, did adopt something from them back again. On the whole,
the work was a work of raising, not of sinking; but it is needful to
remember that, when we speak of the narrow peninsulas of Southern Italy
becoming Greek from sea to sea, we mean that they largely became Greek
by the adoption of the earlier inhabitants into the Greek body. When we
speak of the vast mainland of North America becoming wholly European,
mainly English, from Ocean to Ocean, we mean that it has become so,
not by the adoption of the earlier people by invaders who were also
teachers, but by the gradual vanishing of the earlier people before
invaders who to them at least have been destroyers.

Now this difference is one that follows directly from the difference
in scale between the world in which the old Greek settlers lived and
the world in which modern European nations live. This difference in
scale is a thing which we must remember at every step. The Greek, in
planting his settlements round the coasts of his own Mediterranean Sea,
had nowhere to deal with races of men so utterly unlike his own as the
races with whom modern Europeans have had to deal in planting their
settlements in the islands and continents of the Ocean. Those among
whom the Greek settled were mainly men of the same great family as
himself, men capable of being raised, by a swifter or slower process,
to his own level. His world did indeed take in, as ours does, nations
of ancient and rival civilizations altogether distinct from his own,
but it was not among those nations that he planted his colonies.
Where the Egyptian had dwelled from an immemorial antiquity, where
the Phœnician had planted his abiding colonies in the first dawn of
European history, there the Greek in his best days never settled; Egypt
did in the end become in some sort part of the Greek world; but it
was not by settlement from free Greece, but by the conquests of the
Macedonian kings. Egypt under the Ptolemies was like India now, a land
conquered but not, strictly speaking, colonized, a land in which the
older nation kept on its own older life alongside of the intruding life
of the younger settlers. But it marks the narrow area of the old Greek
world, that Egypt, in some sort its India, in some sort its China, came
within the physical limits of that world; it was a land whose shores
were washed by the same waters that washed the shores of Hellas. This
difference of scale must never be forgotten while we are comparing or
contrasting the days of old Greece with our days. But while we ever
bear in mind the difference, we must ever beware of being led away by
the misleading inferences which shallow talkers have often drawn from
that difference. The nature of man is the same, whether he has a wider
or a narrower sphere for his work; and the narrower sphere has some
advantages over the wider. It is in small communities, in commonwealths
of a single city, where men are brought closer together than in greater
states, where every man has a personal share in the political life of
the community, that the faculties of man are raised to the highest
level and sharpened to the finest point. It is, from a political
point of view, the great merit of modern scientific discoveries that
they have enabled the people of a great community, of a kingdom or
commonwealth covering a great space, to have that direct personal
knowledge of the political life of the community of which they are
members, that direct personal share in it, which once could not be had
save where the state was confined to the territory of a single city.
Instead of despising earlier times because they had not printing and
railways and telegraphs, let us rather say that printing and railways
and telegraphs were needed to raise large states to the level of small
ones. By means of those inventions the Englishman of our day has become
far more like an Athenian of the age of Periklês than his forefathers
were in any earlier time. A hundred years ago, even fifty years ago,
the utmost the ordinary Englishman could do was now and then to give
a vote, if he chanced to have one, at a parliamentary election, and
to read or hear the most meagre accounts of what was going on in
Parliament and elsewhere in public life. Very few Englishmen ever
saw or heard Walpole or Pulteney, Pitt or Fox. Now the whole land
has well-nigh become a single city; we see and hear our leading men
almost daily; they walk before us as the leaders of the Athenian
democracy walked before their fellow-citizens; they take us into their
counsels; they appeal to us as their judges; we have in short a share
in political life only less direct than the share of the Athenian
freeman, a share which our forefathers, even two or three generations
back, never dreamed of. But without the help of modern scientific
discoveries, this active share in public affairs on the part of the
mass of the inhabitants of a large country would have been simply a
dream. Or look at a matter which more directly concerns the immediate
subject of this discourse, look at the vast developement of English
political life in the great English land beyond the Ocean; can any
man believe that a hundred years back Maine, Florida, and California
could have been kept together as a political whole by any power short
of a despotism? Could those distant lands have acted as parts of one
free political body, if they had had no means of intercourse with one
another swifter than the speed of a horse? It is by the help of modern
discoveries that the federal systems of old Greece can be reproduced on
a gigantic scale, that a single Union of states can embrace a continent
stretching from Ocean to Ocean instead of a peninsula stretching from
sea to sea. In short, instead of despising those ancient communities
which were the earliest form of European political life, we should
rejoice that in many things we have gone back to the earliest form of
European political life, that the discoveries of modern times have
enabled the free states of old times to arise again, but to arise
again, no longer on the scale of cities but on the scale of nations.

When then we compare the colonial system of modern times, like any
other feature of modern political life, with the thing answering to
it in the political life of the old Greek city-commonwealths, we must
never forget the difference of area on which the political life of the
two periods has been acted; but we must never allow ourselves to fancy
that difference of area, any more than distance of time, wholly shuts
us off from political fellowship with those earlier times or makes
their experience of none effect for our political instruction. The
communities of those days were cities, the communities of our days are
nations; but cities and nations alike share in a common political life
in which many of the ages that went between their days and ours had no
share. The Greek settlements, like the Phœnician settlements before
them, were settlements of cities, not of nations, not of kingdoms or
of commonwealths on the scale of kingdoms. Till the political needs
of a later age taught the Greek that several cities might be combined
in a federal union, his whole political life had gathered round the
single independent city as its essential unit. Every Greek city was
not independent; but every Greek city deemed itself wronged if it was
not independent; when its independence was lost, it was, within all
Hellenic lands, lost by the rule of city over city. And the rule of
city over city, if it took away the independence of the subject city
as an equal power among other powers, did not wipe out its essential
character as a separate city-commonwealth. The dependent city was not
incorporated like an annexed land; it was not held in bondage like a
subject province; it remained a city, with more or less of freedom in
its local affairs, though bound, as against other powers, to follow the
lead of the ruling city. The city was all in all; the smallness of the
community, the narrowness of its area, brought every citizen face to
face with his fellows and his leaders; it brought with it a fulness of
political life, an extension of political power and political interests
to every citizen, to which larger states have reached only by painful
steps and by help of the inventions which have in some sort made time
and distance cease to be. The Greek was before all things a citizen;
his political life was wholly local; his powers and duties as a citizen
could be discharged only in his own city, on some spot hallowed by old
tradition, and hallowed most commonly in the more formal sense by the
abiding presence and guardianship of the patron deity. He felt in the
strongest sense the tie of membership of a community, the tie of all
the duties which spring from membership of a community. For his city
he would live and toil and die, but he would live and toil and die for
it, because it was the whole of which he was himself a part. He owed
faith and loyalty to his city--loyalty in its true and ancient sense
of obeying the law, the law which he might be called on to help to
administer, which he might, in some rare case, be called on to help to
change. He might keep that faith and loyalty far away from his own city
by doing all that he could in foreign lands for the interest and honour
of that city. But in no other sense could he carry his citizenship with
him beyond the bounds of the territory of his city; elsewhere he might
act as a soldier or as an envoy, but hardly in the strictest sense as
a citizen. The tie was local; the duty was local; of a personal tie
of allegiance binding him to a personal superior, bringing with it
personal duties which should everywhere dog his steps, which could not
be cast off in any corner of the world--of loyalty in that sense, the
old Greek, the old Phœnician, had never any thought in his mind.

The change in the meaning of the word “loyalty” well marks that
leading political characteristic of modern Europe which stands out
in the fullest contrast to the political thoughts of the ancient
commonwealths. Loyalty, once simply _legalitas_, obedience to the law,
has for ages meant--when it has not meant something far baser--no
longer obedience to the law, no longer duty to a community as a
community, but faith and duty owed by one man to another man. It may
be simply the personal duty of a man to his lord, the tie of chosen or
hereditary comradeship, the tie known by the oldest Greek and by the
oldest German, an ennobling tie indeed as regards the man himself, a
tie which may lead to lofty prowess or to pure self-sacrifice, the tie
of the true companions of Brihtnoth on the day of Maldon, when on the
place of slaughter each man lay thegn-like, his lord hard by. Or it may
take the less poetic, the more political shape, in which the thought of
the commonwealth does come in, but where the commonwealth is perhaps
overshadowed by its chief, perhaps only embodied in him. The notion of
personal allegiance, a notion which could have been hardly understood
by either the aristocratic or the democratic Greek, has been the
essence of the political system of Europe for many ages. It is a notion
which grows up as naturally in a kingdom as the other notion, the
notion of duty to the community, grows up in a commonwealth which knows
no abiding personal head. It by no means shuts out the notion of duty
to the community; but, as has been just now implied, it has a tendency
to overshadow it. In the higher types of the class, in the French
nobles, for instance, under the old monarchy, the feeling of personal
loyalty, of devotion to the particular man who wore the crown, perhaps
reached its highest point since the days of the old Greek and Teutonic
comradeship. It was a feeling that was by no means wholly degrading;
but it tended to put in the shade, if not wholly to crush out, feelings
higher and worthier. Men looked so much to the King of France, they
looked so much on France as embodied in his person, that there was
small room left in their thoughts for France herself, for France as
embodied in her people. Since kingdoms have put on more nearly the
practical shape of commonwealths, this extravagant devotion to a single
man has been somewhat toned down, and more room is gained for feelings
coming nearer to those which were felt in a free democracy of old. But
the radical distinction still remains between the leading political
ideas of the state which acknowledges a prince as its sovereign and the
state which knows no sovereign but the commonwealth itself. The primary
and formal duty of the member of a state that acknowledges a prince, a
duty to which in many cases he is bound by direct personal promises,
is a personal duty to a person. It is a duty which he cannot throw
off under any circumstances of time and place; it follows him wherever
he goes; on the most distant foreign soil he remains the subject of
the prince in whose dominions he drew his breath. While the active
duties of the citizen of a commonwealth can hardly be discharged beyond
the territories of that commonwealth, the duties of the subject of a
king, the subject, that is, of a personal master, are as binding on
one part of the earth’s surface as on another. I have just used words
which go to the root of the matter. I have used the words “citizen”
and “subject.” The difference between the two conceptions can nowhere
put on a more living shape than in the use of those two names. The
Greek would have deemed himself degraded by the name of “subject.” To
him the word that best translates it expressed the position of men
who, either in their own persons or in the person of the cities to
which they belonged, were shorn of the common rights of every city, of
every citizen. We use the word “subject” daily without any feeling
of being lowered by it. It has become so familiar that it is assumed
as the natural phrase to express membership of a political body, and
it is often used when it is quite out of place. I once read, and that
in a formal document, of a “Swiss subject,” and I had the pleasure
of explaining that there had been no subjects, no _Unterthanen_, in
Switzerland since 1798[1]. And the question comes, What are we to say
instead? “Swiss citizen,” “French citizen,” “citizen of the United
States,” have this awkwardness about them that the community whose
membership they express is not a city. The very awkwardness points
to the main difference between the world of old Hellas and the world
of modern Europe, the difference in scale. Be it kingdom or be it
commonwealth, the state with which modern politics have to deal is not
a city but something vastly greater.

Now there is no branch of political life on which these distinctions
tell with greater force than on the work of planting new homes of any
people beyond the sea. The colonies, the settlements, the plantations,
of that elder world whose range of settlement was the Mediterranean
were settlements of citizens who set forth from cities. The colonies,
the settlements, the plantations of the newer world whose range of
settlement has been the Ocean have been mainly settlements of subjects
who set forth from kingdoms. Hence, while in almost every other point
the two systems of settlement are so wonderfully alike, in all those
points which immediately follow from this essential deference they
stand utterly aloof from each other. The men who planted Greater
Greece--whether we mean thereby the land once really so called or any
other part of the Greek colonial world--were citizens of cities. The
men who planted Greater Britain, if so we are to call it, like the
men who planted Greater Portugal, Greater Spain, or Greater France,
were subjects of kingdoms. There is but one exception. The colonies of
the United Netherlands were colonies planted by a commonwealth, and
of all European colonies they have departed most widely from the old
Greek model. But though colonies of a commonwealth, though colonies
of a commonwealth in which cities played the chief part, they could
hardly be called colonies of cities. They were colonies of a great
confederation, of an aristocratic confederation, which had in many
things more in common with kingdoms than with independent cities. They
were colonies planted in a colonial world in which the colonies of
kingdoms had set the model. The kingdom then, and not the commonwealth,
has been the essential colonizing element in modern Europe. The
colonies of modern Europe have been in the main colonies of subjects,
not of citizens. Each alike, citizen and subject, carried with him that
form of political life which was natural to each. The Greek colonist,
citizen of a city, planted a city. Severed from his native city,
severed perhaps by such a world of waters as that which parts Euboia
from Sicily or by such a wider world of waters as parts Phôkaia from
Gaul, he could no longer remain a citizen of his own city; he could
no longer discharge the duties of citizenship on a distant spot; he
could no longer join in the debates of the old _agorê_; he could no
longer join in the worship of the old temple; but he must still have
some _agorê_ and some temple; he must still have a city to dwell in, a
city in which still to dwell the life of a free Greek, when he could no
longer live that life in the city of his birth. So he planted a city,
a free city, a city that knew no lord, that knew no ruling city, a
city furnished from the first with all that was needed for the life of
a Greek commonwealth, a city free and independent from its birth. And
he dwelled in the new city as he had once dwelled in the old; he gave
himself to make the new worthy of the old, the daughter worthy of the
mother. But did he thereby deem that he had ceased to be a Greek? Did
he deem that he had severed himself from Greece? Did he even deem that
he had broken off from all duty and fellowship towards the city from
whence he had set forth? No; dwell where he might, the Greek remained a
Greek; wherever he went he carried Hellas with him; in Asia, in Libya,
in Sicily, in Italy, in Gaul, far away by the pillars that guarded the
mouth of Ocean, far away in the inmost recesses of the Inhospitable
Sea, wherever he trod, a new Hellas, if we will, a Greater Hellas,
sprang into being; on those new shores of Hellas he kept his old
Hellenic heart, his old Hellenic fellowship; he still kept the tongue
and customs of his folk; he clave to the gods of his folk; he could go
to the old land and consult their oracles, he could claim his place in
their sacred games, as freely as if he still dwelled by the banks of
the Spartan Eurôtas or under the shadow of the holy rock of Athens.
And how fared he towards the city of his birth, the _metropolis_, the
mother-city of his new home, the birthplace and cradle of himself and
his fellow-citizens of his new city? Political tie none remained; no
such tie could remain among a system of cities. Parent and child were
on the political side necessarily parted; the colonist could exercise
no political rights in the mother-city, nor did the mother-city put
forward any claim to be lady and mistress of her distant daughter.
Still the love, the reverence, due to a parent was never lacking.
The tie of memory, the tie of kindred, the tie of religion, were of
themselves so strong that no tie of political allegiance was needed to
make them stronger. The sacred fire on the hearth of the new city was
kindled from the hearth of its mother; the parent was honoured with
fitting honours, her gods were honoured with fitting offerings; her
citizens were welcomed as elder brethren when they visited the younger
city. And when the child itself became a parent, when the new city
itself sent forth its colonies, the mother-city of all was prayed to
share in the work and to send forth elder brethren of her own stock to
be leaders in the enterprise of her children.

In truth the ordinary story of the relations between a Greek colony
and its metropolis, relations that is between a perfectly independent
state and another state to which it looks up with traditional
reverence, is perhaps the most attractive feature of Greek political
life. The history of the relations between Corinth and Syracuse is
a pleasing tale throughout. During all the centuries of the joint
independence of the two cities, the relations between the metropolis
and its great colony are ever fresh, ever friendly. The Syracusan is
not a Corinthian; the sea that rolls between Ortygia and the Isthmus
forbids that. But he never forgets that he is a child of Corinth, a
child of Peloponnêsos; he cleaves with pride to the local speech of
his fathers; he cherishes the worship of the gods and heroes of the
city of his fathers, their names and their legends live on his lips;
Syracuse may grow into a greater and mightier city than her parent;
but that Corinth is the parent is a thought that never dies out from
any Syracusan heart. Yet the child is free and independent, free
and independent from its beginning. Corinth makes not the slightest
claim to authority or superiority over Syracuse; but she is ever
ready to step in when any need on the part of Syracuse calls for her
help; she steps in as bound to something which to her is dearer and
more recked of than the most cherished among allies who are not her
children. The mother-city steps in alike when Syracuse is pressed by
foreign enemies and when she is torn by domestic seditions. She acts
as a mediator between Syracuse and her foes; she shelters alike her
banished patriots, her banished tyrant, even the foreign enemy whom
Syracuse has spared and has given to her mother’s keeping. And, a
gift precious above all, she sends her own deliverer to be in turn
the deliverer of his brethren. And this friendship between Corinth
and Syracuse is no friendship that stands alone; it is the common tie
which binds Greek metropolis and Greek colony to one another. And all
this becomes the more striking when we come to compare the tale of
Corinth and Syracuse with some really exceptional cases in which the
relations of metropolis and colony were less amiable. Strange to say,
we can find them in the history of this very Corinth and this very
Syracuse. No War of Independence, no Declaration of Independence, was
ever needed between Corinth and Syracuse, because Syracuse was from
the beginning independent of her metropolis, and therefore friendly to
her metropolis. But perhaps a declaration of independence, certainly a
war of independence, was needed between Corinth and Korkyra, between
Syracuse and Kamarina. In each of those cases the metropolis did claim
some measure of authority over the colony. The fruit of this departure
from the common system of Greek settlement was that abiding ill-will
between Korkyra and her parent Corinth which stands out among the
best known facts of Grecian history. And yet perhaps in the only case
where we see Corinth and Korkyra acting together in friendly guise, it
shows that something of the better, the more usual, feeling was not
wholly banished from Corinthian and Korkyraian hearts; we once see the
two cities join to do the duty of a parent and a sister as mediators
on behalf of Syracuse against an enemy. As for the other less famous
case, we read that Kamarina, a colony of Syracuse, revolted against her
metropolis and was swept from the earth as a punishment. The doom was
heavy; the fault may have been grave; but between Corinth and Syracuse,
between Phôkaia and Massalia, there was no room for revolt or for its

Thus the old Greek citizen, in his settlements beyond the sea, founded
cities, cities free and independent from the beginning. Let us see
now what the modern European colonist, subject of a kingdom, has
founded. He has founded settlements of very various kinds in different
cases; but he has nowhere founded free and independent cities, like
the Greek and the Phœnician before him. Cities indeed in one sense he
has founded, vast and mighty cities, busy seats of arts and industry
and commerce, but not cities in the elder sense, cities independent
from their birth, cities that are born the political equals of the
mightiest kingdoms. Cities like these the subject of a kingdom, bound
wherever he goes to remain the subject of a kingdom, can never found.
But what can be found instead? He cannot, in the nature of things,
found kingdoms; it is the essence of his being that he and all that
he has should remain part of an existing kingdom. His first act on
entering an unknown land is to declare it to be part of the dominions
of the prince from whose territories he has set forth. Wherever he
goes, whatever he does, he is tied and hampered by the necessity of
abiding in the allegiance of his original sovereign. It is wonderful to
see how near some of the founders of modern European settlements came
to the creation of really independent states. A slender line indeed
distinguished the elder colonies of New England from states absolutely
independent. The interference of the mother-country was, in many times
and places, slight indeed. Still the final step was never taken; they
were not absolutely and formally independent states, like the old
settlements of Greece and Phœnicia. As all the world knows, even those
settlements where local freedom was fullest, those which came most
nearly to the level of actual independence, needed a Declaration of
Independence, a War of Independence, to raise them to its full level.
The settlements of modern Europe have not conformed to the pattern
of Syracuse and Massalia; they have followed the exceptional pattern
of Korkyra and Kamarina. In Greek Asia then, in Greek Sicily, in the
Greater Greece itself on the forked peninsulas of Italy, we see a
gathering of Greek settlements, each a free and independent city, each
as a free and independent city carrying on its own political life, its
questions, its disputes, perhaps its wars, with some fellow city; but
all alike Greek, all glorying in the Hellenic name, all looking back
to old Hellas as the motherland, each looking to its own mother-city,
not with the dread of a subject, not with the helplessness of a child
still in tutelage, but with the manly deference of a child of full
age, whose reverence for his parent is none the less because he is no
longer a member of the household. By way of contrast to that national
life abiding in a new land, we see, in vast regions of the American
continent, lands which once were English, which once were Spanish,
which are still English and Spanish as far as common blood and speech
and history can make them so, but which have ceased to be English or
Spanish as political communities, and which grudgingly acknowledge the
English or Spanish name. We see lands that parted in wrath from the
motherland, and by whom the wrath of that parting has not wholly been
forgotten. We see lands whose independence, instead of growing from the
beginning with the good will of a watchful parent, has been won by the
sword from the grasp of a parent who strove to keep her children in
subjection. And all this has been the direct and necessary result of
the theory of political life which the founders of those English and
Spanish settlements carried with them. Subjects of a kingdom could do
no otherwise; the theory of an allegiance which could never be cast
aside obliged their settlements to become provinces, dependencies,
whatever name is chosen, of the motherland. They could not found an
independent kingdom any more than they could found an independent city.
Dependence, tighter or slacker, was the necessity of the case. But it
was no less in the necessity of the case that a day should come when
even the slackest form of dependence could be borne no longer. That
these colonies “are and ought to be free and independent states” was a
voice which could not fail to be heard some day in Massachusetts and
Virginia; there was no need for it ever to be heard in Syracuse or in
Sybaris; for no man doubted their freedom and independence from the day
of their first founding.

The mention of the independent colonies of England, those which, by
the necessity of the Colonial system of modern Europe, were driven
to win their independence by the sword, suggests one question of no
small moment for our present inquiry. Does this popular phrase of
“Greater Britain” take in, or does it not take in, the United States
of America? I say the popular phrase, because, as the phrase was first
used by the writer who I believe invented it, who certainly gave it
its first currency, it undoubtedly did take in the United States. But
I am not at all certain whether it does or does not in the vague and
lax way in which the phrase is now often used to add a flourish to
a period. Now if the phrase “Greater Britain” does not take in the
United States, it is certainly somewhat strange to shut out from that
name the mightiest offshoot of the English folk. If it is meant to
take them in, I am afraid that we may sometimes be met with a little
unwillingness on the part of those whom we would fain welcome within
our pale. There is the speaking fact, that, while the Greek of Spain
or of the Tauric Chersonêsos never doubted as to his being a Greek,
the Englishman even of New England sometimes but grudgingly allows
himself to be an Englishman. This is the result of parting in anger;
under the Greek system, there was no room for parting at all. To the
Greek colonist the names of the motherland from which he had set forth,
of the folk from which he did not sever himself in setting forth from
that motherland, suggested simple brotherhood, without a thought of
subjection or dependence. To the descendant of English settlers in
America, citizen, of a vast commonwealth of English blood and English
speech, the English name has come to suggest--it is hard to say what,
but something which the Greek name did not suggest to the citizen of
any Greek settlement beyond the sea. He may accept it; but he accepts
it with a kind of effort, with a kind of second thoughts. The fact is
that the notion of allegiance has for some centuries taken such root in
men’s minds, it has become so thoroughly the leading idea of political
life, it has become so largely the definition of a separate political
community, that the English name has come, on both sides of the Ocean,
to carry with it some lurking flavour of necessary allegiance to the
English crown. The Englishman of America shrinks from calling himself
an Englishman, lest that name should unwittingly imply an allegiance
which his forefathers cast off. The Englishman of Britain shrinks
from bestowing the English name on the Englishman of America, lest he
should seem to be wounding the national pride of a people the very
root of whose political life was the denial of all English political
allegiance. Neither side seem able freely to grasp the truth that
was so clear to the mind of every Greek, the truth that two or many
communities may be wholly distinct for every political purpose, and may
yet be members of one nation for every other purpose of national life.
I ask again, Do the United States of America come under the definition
of “Greater Britain”? If I rightly understand the use of the phrase,
“Greater Britain” is sometimes held to have the same meaning as the
phrase “British Empire.” If so, then assuredly the United States of
America do not come, and do not seek to come, within such a definition
as that. But sometimes the phrase of “Greater Britain” seems rather to
be used as bearing the same meaning as another phrase that we sometimes
hear, that of “the Federation of the English-speaking People.” Now the
people of the United States of America surely form so large a part of
the English-speaking people that a federation which is meant to take in
all the branches of that people is strangely imperfect if it leaves out
a branch so great and so fruitful as that which has spread the English
tongue from Ocean to Ocean.

Again, if the phrase “Greater Britain” is held to be equivalent, not
to the federation of the English-speaking people but to the “British
Empire,” then another difficulty meets us. The Imperial state of all,
that Empire of India set alone in its august rank above the mere
kingdoms of lowlier Europe, may indeed be looked on as the head and
front of the Imperial power of Britain; it can hardly be looked on as
itself a Greater Britain. Greek Kings, at any rate Macedonian Kings,
once ruled from Pharos to Syênê, from the shores of the Ægæan to the
banks of the Indus, yet no man would ever have applied the name of
Greater Greece, or even of Greater Macedonia, to the Greek dominion
over Egypt and the East. The Greater Greece in Italy was Greater Greece
because it had truly become Greek. The Greek dominion in Egypt and the
East could not be said to form a Greater Greece, because those lands
never became Greek; they received at most a Greek fringe, a Greek
veneer, a slight outer garment of Hellenism spread over an essentially
barbarian body. And if Egypt or Asia was not Greater Greece, surely
India is Greater Britain still less. There is there no abiding British
element drawing to it the science, the learning, the whole art and
skill of the British world. For if Asia and Egypt never became Greek,
yet within their borders Alexandria and Antioch became renowned as the
greatest of Greek colonies, the courts of kings, the universities
of scholars, the centres of the intellectual life of Greece when its
political life was shrinking up within narrow bounds indeed. Greece
looked elsewhere for her greater self, and Britain cannot fail to look
elsewhere for her greater self, and not where the influence of Britain
takes the shape, so largely of dominion, so slightly of assimilation.
All that I am asking for is clearness of speech; I seek to have words
well defined, and that is all. I do not profess myself to define the
phrase “Greater Britain;” I only remark that, if it is held to be the
same as the “British Empire,” it cannot be the same as the “Federation
of English-speaking people;” and that if it be either the one or the
other, certain consequences would seem to follow which it seems to me
are now and then forgotten.

But one thing is certain. If the phrase “Greater Britain” answers
to “federation of the English-speaking people,” if it takes in the
English-speaking people of the United States of America, it also
takes in great communities of English-speaking people in America,
Australasia, Africa, and other parts of the islands and continents of
the Ocean, which are not in the same political condition as the United
States. Herein comes a great political problem, which never presented
itself to any mind in the old colonizing days of Phœnicia and Greece,
and which never presented itself to any mind in modern Europe till
quite lately. The older state of things was familiar with distant and
scattered settlements which none the less formed a national whole, but
which stood in no political relation either to one another or to the
mother-cities from whence they were settled. The later state of things
was no less familiar with distant and scattered settlements, perhaps
forming a national whole, perhaps not, but in either case united to the
mother-country, the ruling country, by a common tie of dependence. The
fact that so many European colonies which were held in this relation
have parted asunder from the states on which they were dependent, the
great case of all, the winning of independence by thirteen American
colonies of England, the wonderful growth of those colonies in their
new character as independent states, has for a long time past drawn
men’s minds to the relations between mother-country and colony. The
relation once so common in the modern world, the relation of mere
dependence, sometimes almost of bondage, is no longer maintained on
any hand. In the chief colonies of Great Britain at all events, every
care has been taken, while keeping the relation of dependence, to make
dependence as little irksome as may be. The fullest local freedom has
been given; dependence has in appearance sunk to little more than the
retention of a common allegiance to a common sovereign. Of late keener
eyes have seen somewhat more clearly what has lurked beneath this,
at first sight, very pleasing relation. In its internal affairs the
colony is, in all seeming, as free as the mother-country; I say in
all seeming, because even in the freest colonial constitutions there
is still a certain hidden power which may ever and anon step forth in
a way in which it never can step forth again in the mother-country.
And the fullest independence in local affairs cannot wholly put out
of sight the fact that in all strictly national affairs the freest
of colonies is as dependent as ever. The greatest and freest of
colonies may at any moment find itself plunged into a war which may
suit the interests or the fancies of the people of Great Britain, but
which may in no way suit the interests or the fancies of the people
of the colony. It is to meet this difficulty that schemes have been
of late largely proposed for bringing about a nearer union between
the mother-country and the colonies, and that in some shape other
than that of dependence. Mother-country and colonies are to form one
political whole, but a political whole in which no member is to claim
superiority, or at any rate authority, over any other. I am not now
arguing for or against such a scheme; this is not the place to do
so. I wish simply, as a matter of accuracy of thought, to put some
questions as to what is really meant, so that we may fully understand
what it is that we are talking about. And I wish further, by way of
historical inference, to point out some facts which may perchance be
helpful in making up our minds on the subject which we are talking

I would therefore ask again, Do “Greater Britain,” “Imperial
Federation,” “Federation of the English-speaking People,” mean one
thing or two or three? The difficulty is that a great part of what
it is fashionable to call “the British Empire” does not consist of
English-speaking people, and that a large part of the English-speaking
people do not form part of the “British Empire.” The existence
of India, the existence of the United States, surround us with
difficulties at every step. Then again, What is Imperial Federation?
If it is Imperial, how is it Federal? If it is Federal, how is it
Imperial? Is the present German Empire to be the type? That is in a
certain sense an Imperial Federation, because its chief bears the
title of Emperor. But then some may think that it is too Imperial to
be exactly Federal; some may think that the position of some of its
smaller members does not practically differ very much from a position
of dependence. One cannot help thinking that the colony of Victoria,
though it is still a dependency, enjoys more of practical independence
than the duchy of Oldenburg, which is a sovereign state. Does the
Imperial Federation take in India or not? Let us be careful how we
answer. If the Empire of India is left out of the Federation, how is
the Federation Imperial? I am not sure that I always know the exact
meaning of the words “Empire” and “Imperial;” but there is one part of
the Queen’s dominions, and one only, in which she bears the title of
Empress, and it would be strange if, in forming the Queen’s dominions
into an Imperial Federation, her one Imperial possession should be
the only part of her dominions which is left out. But if, on the other
hand, the Empire of India is taken into the Federation, if all its
inhabitants receive, as surely they must receive, the same federal
rights as the inhabitants of other parts of the Federation, then we
may be allowed to ask, how the Federation of which the Empire of India
is a part will be a Federation of the English-speaking people or a
Federation at all. The area and population of the Empire of India are
so great that, in its federal aspect, as the state or canton of India,
it will hold a place in the Imperial Federation of Greater Britain at
least as overwhelming as Prussia now holds in the Imperial Federation
of Germany. Where would Great Britain be, where would Australia
or Canada or South Africa be, alongside of such a yoke-fellow? It
will be a serious question in such a case what is to become of the
white-skinned, European, Christian, minority, outvoted, as it must
always be, by millions on millions of dark-skinned Mussulmans and
Hindoos who can hardly be reckoned among the English-speaking people.
I am not arguing for or against all this; it may be the right thing
for so small an island as ours to be taught its fitting place in the
world. I only ask whether those who talk about “Imperial Federation”
have always stopped to think exactly what they mean by the words. And
I would ask whether the only scheme which would seem to be correctly
described by the name of Imperial Federation could be sung or said,
with any degree of harmony, to the tune of “Rule Britannia.”

Of course it may be that the tune of “Rule Britannia” may have come
to mean the rule, not of the Great, but of the Greater Britain. Only
we are again followed by the difficulty of settling what the Greater
Britain is. India and its Empire are, to say the least, a puzzle. But
passing by that difficulty for a moment, there is to be in any case
a Federation of some kind, a Federation of very scattered members,
members which have hitherto looked up to a common parent as their
abiding head, in truth their abiding ruler. And now that head, that
ruler, is asked to do what no ruling state in the world has ever been
asked to do. I feel certain that not a few of those who talk about an
Imperial Federation of the English-speaking people use those words as
having, perhaps a high-sounding, perhaps a patriotic ring, but without
ever stopping to think what the words which they use, if they imply
anything, really do imply. Yet the word “Federation” has a meaning.
Different federations may take, and have taken, very different shapes,
but, if they are to be federations at all, one thing is of the very
essence. The states that unite to make the federation, while they keep
certain powers in their own hands, give up certain other powers to a
central body, a body which speaks and acts in the name, not of this
or that state, but of the whole body of states. And the powers that
they give up to this central body are those powers which are strictly
national, those in the exercise of which the nation, as such, comes
across the other nations and powers of the world. This nation, any
other nation, cannot have any dealings with the State of New York; all
its dealings must be with the United States of America. Now we, this
kingdom of Great Britain, have been for a good while accustomed to
hold the same position in the world as the United States of America,
and we have been withal accustomed to hold it for a much longer time
than the United States of America have. Are we willing to give up this
position, and to sink to the position of the State of New York or the
State of Delaware? For this is what Federation really means. Some other
conceivable form of union may conceivably mean something else; but it
is Federation that is talked of, and this is what Federation means.
Hitherto the Parliament of Great Britain, that is the King, Lords, and
Commons of Great Britain, has been a sovereign assembly, an assembly
which knows no superior on earth and which knows no limit to the range
of its powers. If Great Britain becomes one member of a Federation
alongside of the British colonies in Australia and Canada, the
Parliament of Great Britain will cease to be all this; it will become
a subordinate legislature, like the legislature of the State of Rhode
Island or of the Canton of Schwyz, a legislature which can deal only
with its own subordinate range of subjects, and may not meddle with
that higher range of subjects which it has given over to the Federal
power. The question indeed may further arise whether any Great Britain,
any Parliament of Great Britain, should be allowed to remain at all.
It may be thought fairer, nay, it may even be in the interest of Great
Britain itself as getting it more votes in the Federal body, that Great
Britain should no more be heard of, and that England, Scotland, and
Wales, nay, for ought I know, Wessex and Mercia, Lothian and Gwynedd,
should all enter the Union as separate States. I am not arguing for
or against all this. I only again ask whether those who talk about
Imperial Federation have always weighed all these chances, and also how
far any of them is consistent with the tune of “Rule Britannia.”

As a matter of fact, no real Federation was ever formed in this
fashion--for I cannot look on the modern German Empire as a Federation
in more than form. The chief Federations of the world have been formed
in quite another way. A number of small states, in face of some greater
power that threatened them, each needing the help of its fellows
against the common enemy, have agreed, while still keeping each one
its separate being, to become one state for all purposes that touch
their relations to other powers. This description suits all the main
federations of the world, old and new. In forming such federations,
it is plain that each member gives up somewhat of its formal rank
as an absolutely independent state. But this small self-lowering is
more than outweighed by the far greater security that it gains for
preserving independence in any shape. It is quite another case when a
great power, an ancient power, a ruling power, is asked to come down
from its place, to rank for the future simply as one member alongside
of its own dependencies, even though most of those dependencies are
its own children. For this, it must be remembered, and nothing else,
is what Federation really means. And it is what no ruling power on
earth has ever yet consented to, and what we may suspect that no ruling
power ever will consent to. This process must not be confounded with
another form of union, which is perfectly conceivable, but which is
wholly different, and which is not Federation. Though a ruling state
is not likely to stoop to the level of its dependencies, yet many a
ruling state has found it wise to incorporate its dependencies in its
own body. The growth of the Roman Empire, by gradually admitting one
class of dependencies after another to the full Roman franchise, is
the great example of all. By this process the ruling state gives up
nothing; it simply admits others, not so much to its own level as into
its own substance. The ruling state does not sink; the dependencies, as
separate communities, neither rise nor sink; as communities they cease
to exist; but their citizens or subjects are raised to the level of
citizens or subjects of the ruling power. If any one should propose,
not that Great Britain and her dependencies should enter into a
Federation, but that the United Kingdom should absorb its dependencies,
that their inhabitants should all be represented in the Parliament of
the United Kingdom, any objection to such a scheme as this would be
objections of quite another kind from the objections which beset the
scheme of Federation. The difficulty of carrying out such a scheme is
almost wholly a physical one. Can such distant and scattered elements
be thus joined together in a political body one and indivisible?
Have those scientific discoveries of which I spoke earlier in this
discourse advanced so far as to annihilate time and distance on such
a scale as this? I say nothing either way; I simply wish to point out
the difference between two utterly distinct proposals which are likely
to be confounded. I add only one warning. Vast territories have been
united, both on the Federal system, as in the United States, and on the
system of more thorough union into a single body, as in the Empire of
old Rome. But hitherto they have always been continuous territories.
Provinces and states, however distant, have been physically one; they
shade off gradually into one another; it is possible to walk from
the furthest point at one end to the furthest point at the other. It
seems another thing to unite in the same way a mass of territories,
not only at vast distances from one another, but utterly isolated.
Carthage, Venice, Genoa, have held a scattered dominion of this kind;
but it has been merely a dominion. With them there was no federal tie,
no political communion of any kind; there was simply the uncontrolled
authority of the ruling city. The question is whether federation or
any other form of political union is possible among members so widely
scattered. It may be true that it takes no longer time now to go
from New Zealand to Westminster than it took to go from Shetland to
Westminster at the time of the Union of Great Britain. But Shetland and
Westminster, though not parts of one continuous territory, are parts
of one geographical whole. There are no foreign waters to cross, no
foreign lands to pass by, on the road between them.

I am not, I must end by again saying, here either to recommend any
practical course or to dissuade from any practical course. My business
is a lowlier one. One part of it is the pedantic business of calling
attention to a process which is very needful before we begin to discuss
any practical course, the process of finding out exactly what it is
that we have to argue for and against. I am not arguing for or against
federation or any other scheme; I simply point out what federation is,
and what are the difficulties about it. I am trying to show what is
the real meaning of that or of any other word, and thereby to avoid
the confusion of thought and often of action which follows when a name
which has been long used to mean one thing is suddenly turned about to
mean something else. Another part of my business is to suggest real
analogies and to warn against false ones. I have referred largely to
the experience of political communities in ages very distant from our
own time and on a scale very different from the political communities
of our own time. I wish to point out the real, instructive, practical,
likeness which, with a little pains, may be seen through much real
and more seeming unlikeness. Above all, I wish to point out that some
of the great inventions of modern times, which might at first sight
seem to sever us more utterly than ever from those small and ancient
commonwealths, have really brought us nearer to them. The great lesson
of history is that the nature of man, at any rate of civilized European
man, is the same in all times and places, and that there is no time
or place whose experience may not supply us with some teaching. But
free states naturally supply the best lessons for free states. The
difference in scale between the free states of various ages is after
all only an accidental difference which does not go to the root of the
matter. The difference is largely part of that extension of the area of
history which follows on the advance of civilized man, that advance in
which the creation of Greater Greece in one age and of Greater Britain
in another were alike steps. The great thing to remember in these
matters is that the men of the earliest days of civilized Europe, the
elder brethren of the great historic family of which we ourselves are
members, were neither, as men seemed to think a few generations back,
beings of a race above us, nor yet, as some seem inclined to think
now, beings so far below us, or in a position so unlike our own, that
their experience can be of no use to us. Either of these mistakes is
alike fatal to a general grasp of that unbroken history of the world
of which the earliest days of Greece are one stage and the most modern
days of England are another. Above all, instead of despising those days
of small communities because of their ignorance of modern inventions
which they needed far less than we do, let us rather rejoice that those
inventions have brought us who do need them nearer to the political
level of those early times. To me at least it is some satisfaction
that the England in which I now live is palpably more like the Athens
of the days of Periklês than was the England in which I was born. And
it is beyond doubt the great scientific discoveries of modern times
which have largely helped to make it so.


[1] While I am revising my proofs, I read, in a law report in an
English newspaper, something about “an American subject.”



The day on which we are met is the day that is honoured by a mighty
commonwealth of our own blood and speech as the birthday of its
founder. It is a day of rejoicing in every home throughout the vastest
of English lands, the land where the tongue and laws of England have
won for themselves a wider dominion than the Empire of Justinian or
of Trajan. From the western brink of that giant stream of Ocean of
which the Greek of old heard with wonder to the eastern brink of that
further Ocean of which Ptolemy and Strabo never dreamed, the name of
a man of English blood, of English speech, bearing the simple name of
an English village, is uttered, as on this day, with the same feelings
with which the men of elder commonwealths uttered the names of Brutus
and Timoleôn. The Teutonic clan which, in some unrecorded settlement
of our folk, planted on a spot of Northern English soil the obscure
name of the Wascingas, dreamed not that the name of their little mark,
unrecorded in the annals of the elder England, should become the first
of names in a younger and a vaster England, the meeting-place of a
wider federation than that which met at Aigion or that which meets
at Bern. Still less could they have dreamed that the city which was
after twelve hundred years and more to take the name of their new-born
township was to take its name because that name had passed as the
name of an English house from the banks of the Wear to the banks of
the Potomac, to be borne in due succession by that one member of that
house who was to make it a name of glory for all ages. From Washington
in the bishopric of Durham to Washington in the district of Columbia,
the bound is greater, the contrast is more startling, than when we
pass from Boston in Holland to Boston in Massachusetts, or even when
we pass from Melbourne with her three towers in the old land of the
Five Boroughs to that Melbourne in the greatest of islands where even
the younger Washington may seem ancient. Happy indeed was the luck
that the man whose birth we celebrate this day bore by descent from
his fathers the good Teutonic name of an English _gens_ and an English
township. Under no system of nomenclature but that of our fathers
could the name of the township have so simply and naturally become the
name of the man, and the name of the man have so simply and naturally
become the name of the city. The result would have been less happy if
the city had been fated to bear the names of not a few of the comrades
and fellow-workers of its own _epônymos_. The name of the Bernician
village and of the man who bore it is at least more in place than the
names of some other spots in the same land, spots condemned to bear the
name of a Greek island or a Greek poet, of an Egyptian city or a Roman
oligarch. The federal capital of the younger England bears a name more
truly English than the kingly capital of the elder. London is a name
which has no meaning save in a tongue other than our own; it is the
badge of our conquest over another race. Washington is a name in our
own tongue, a badge, not of conquest but of fellowship. And the man
whose birth one hundred and fifty-four years back is this day kept as
a high day by no small part of the English folk, should be honoured,
and is honoured, by every branch of the English folk alike. It is in
no small measure his work and the work of them that wrought with him,
that the speech and law which one age of English settlement bore from
the European mainland to the European island, which another age of
English settlement bore from the European island to the vaster mainland
of America, are the speech and law of millions of men in either
hemisphere, of more millions of men than are numbered by any other
branch of the common European family.

There may be ears in which the title which I have chosen for my
panegyric speech of this day may perchance sound strange. I speak of
Washington as the Expander of England. The Expansion of England is a
form of words which of late we have often heard, and to some of those
on whose lips that form is most familiar it may indeed seem strange to
hear the first President of the United States claimed as the foremost
in the work of that expansion. Yet some, I trust, there may be who
will at once see that among the worthies of our people there is none
on whom that name can more truly be bestowed. The place of Washington
in the history of mankind, more truly the place of a band of men of
whom Washington was but the foremost, is one which is well-nigh without
a fellow. It is not the place of the founders, real or mythical, of
cities and realms in earlier or later days. It is not the place of the
men who fenced in the hill by the Ilissos to become the home of the
teachers of mankind or the hill by the Tiber to become the home of
their rulers. A city bears the name of Washington, but Washington was
not its founder; a mighty land calls him the Father of his Country,
but, like him who first bore that name, he was not the creator of its
freedom but the preserver. His place is not the place of the men who
won new homes for their folk in other lands, the men who carried the
life of Hellas to the Naxos of Sicily or the life of England to the
Ebbsfleet of Kent. Men like them had gone before him; his work needed
theirs as its forerunner; Virginia, Massachusetts, and their fellows,
needed to be called into being before he should come whose calling was
to weld them into one greater whole. Nor was his place wholly that of
the men who have won the freedom of their own or of some other land
from tyrants from within or from oppressors from without. Most like him
among the men of old in pure and unselfish virtue is he, great alike
in war and peace, who freed alike the mother and the daughter, the man
who freed both his own land and her greatest colony. Yet the work of
Washington is not the same as the work of Timoleôn either at Corinth or
at Syracuse. One stage of the work of Washington was done in arms; yet
he is not wholly like the men who in other days have won the freedom
of nations on the battle-field. His work was not wholly like the work
of the men who wrought the freedom of Jewry in defiance of the will
and mandate of Asia, or of the men who wrought the freedom of Greece
and Servia in defiance of the will and mandate of Europe. One stage
of his work was done in peace, but it was not wholly like the work of
the great reformers of other times, of Kleisthenês, of Licinius, or
of Simon. More like was it to the work of a man most unlike himself,
the man of wile and diplomacy who brought freedom like a thief in the
night into Sikyôn and Corinth. More like was it to the work of the
men of sturdy and enduring might who won victories for freedom on the
field of Morgarten or among the dykes of Holland and Zealand. And yet
the founder of the greatest of confederations holds a place not quite
the same as that of the founders of the lesser confederations of
other times. William of Orange called a free people into fuller being
by breaking the yoke of a stranger far away who called himself their
sovereign. So Washington called a free people into fuller being by
breaking the yoke of a sovereign far away; but then that sovereign was
not a stranger. Markos of Keryneia and Aratos of Sikyôn, and those whom
the stern truth of history bids us call the nameless men who wrought
the freedom of the Three Lands, had to deal with nearer enemies. They
had to deal with enemies who were in some sort strangers, but who were
still men of their own speech at their own doors. Washington and his
fellows had in one sense to form a nation, in another sense to free
a nation; they had to win the freedom of their own special land by
breaking the yoke of the common chief of their whole people. They had
to make the whole greater by rending away a part; they had to be the
expanders of England, to enlarge the bounds of the folk of England;
but they had to do it by breaking old ties asunder, by casting an old
allegiance to the winds; they had, in short, to work the Expansion of
England by working the dismemberment of the British Empire.

Herein comes the great truth, the seeming contradiction, which is
embodied in the life and work of the worthy of this day and of the men
who were his fellow-workers. There may, I trust, be still some left,
who can take in the thought that there may be true brotherhood among
men of the same race and speech, though their homes may be physically
parted by the full breadth of Ocean, though they may be parted into
distinct political communities, possibly rivals, possibly, by some
unlucky chance, even enemies. Let us go back--there is no parallel so
living--to those old Greek analogies of which I have often spoken,
the analogies which some of us may still have in our memories. Let us
place ourselves in the plain of Altis on one of those high festivals
when the scattered folk of Hellas come together as speakers of the
common tongue of Hellas, as worshippers of the common gods of Hellas.
They come from every scattered settlement of Hellenic speech from the
pillars of Hêraklês to the altar of the Tauric Artemis. The race is
run; the victor is proclaimed, the victor whose success is to give
fresh glory to his native city, the city which on his return he may
not enter, like other men, through the opened gate, but through the
breached wall, as it were the conqueror of his own birth-place. That
city may be one of the renowned centres of the Greek motherland; it may
be Athens or Sparta, Thebes or Argos; but it may also be the Iberian
Zakynthos or the Campanian Kymê, Kyrênê on her terrace by the Libyan
sea or far away Olbia by the banks of Dnieper. Every scattered member
of the great brotherhood comes there of equal right; all are alike at
home in the gathering of the united folk; all throng to the common
hearth of the common gods of Hellas and her children. From east and
west and north and south, all are alike Hellênes; none would refuse
the name; none would endure to have the name refused to him. Wherever
men of Hellas have planted themselves on barbarian soil, the soil has
become Hellas through their presence. The man who goes forth from
Athens to Milêtos still remains Greek and Ionian; the man who goes
forth from Rhodes to Gela still remains Greek and Dorian. The tie of
national brotherhood, the abiding feeling of the oneness of the folk,
lives on through physical distance, through political separation,
through political rivalry and wasting war. Here is indeed a gathering
of scattered kinsfolk, but it is no gathering of dependencies round a
common mistress or even round a common mother. It is the picture of
something nobler; the picture of scattered communities, free and equal,
gathered together in a common home and rejoicing in the tie of common

Let us try to call up the like picture of another scattered folk,
a folk which has spread itself far and wide over the islands and
continents of Ocean, as the folk of Hellas spread itself over the
islands and continents of the inner sea. The settlements of the men of
English blood and speech in our own day are in many things a lively
image of the settlements of Hellenic blood and speech in the elder day.
It is indeed hard to conceive a spot round which the whole English
folk might gather as the whole Hellenic folk gathered around the altar
of the Delphian Apollôn or the Olympian Zeus. But let us conceive
such a gathering in some venerable spot of the mother-land, in its
temporal capital or in its ecclesiastical metropolis. Let us conceive
the scattered brethren meeting from their distant homes, from America,
Australia, Africa, from every land where English enterprise has found
a new dwelling-place for the speech and the law of England. But could
the scattered men of England meet together on the same terms on which
the scattered men of Hellas met together? Let us stop for a moment to
think of the terms on which it seems to be commonly taken for granted
that they must meet together if they meet at all. I have just been
reading some brand-new rimes, the literal translation of which might
be toilsome, but the general drift of which it is not hard to see. We
hear in the patriotic poet’s strain of

        “The great England over seas,
      Where, giant-like, our race renews
    Its strength, and, stretched in strenuous ease,
      Puts on once more its manhood’s thews.”

Yet more mysteriously is the fervent hope set forth

      “That our dear land, in days to be,
    May orb herself in fuller scope,
      Knit, heart to heart, in bondage free;
    Till all the peoples of our Queen
      One undivided Empire know.”

In what the promised Elysium is to consist is a little dark, but it
is plain that its blessings are to be confined to “the peoples of
our Queen,” and that, whatever may be the exact political condition
described as being “in bondage free,” it is reached only by those
who are members of “one undivided Empire.” A question which I put
on another occasion is now answered. Till this doctrine was thus
clearly laid down, I was allowed to hope that “the great England over
seas” at least took in that mighty company of free and independent
commonwealths, speaking the English tongue, living under the English
law, where, whether “in strenuous ease” or otherwise, our race has
surely renewed its strength on the shores once planted by the Thirteen
Colonies of England, and in the wider lands to the west of them. It is
now at last plain that, in this new-fledged patriotism which can see
national union only in “undivided Empire,” no place is found for the
country of the man whose birth and deeds we this day remember. It is
plain that “the great England beyond seas” is one in which Virginia and
Massachusetts, Illinois and California, have no part or lot. Strange
indeed to those earlier colonists, to the man of Hellas and to the
man of Canaan, would the doctrine have sounded that there could be
no national fellowship save among “peoples” of the same sovereign,
that national brotherhood could take no shape but that of “undivided
Empire.” “Empire” forsooth; there is something strange, nay something
ominous, in the way in which that word and its even more threatening
adjective seem ready to spring to every lip at every moment. The word
sounds grand and vague; grand, it may be, because of its vagueness.
To those who strive that every word they utter shall have a meaning,
it calls up mighty and thrilling memories of a state of things which
has passed away for ever. Its associations are far from being wholly
evil. It calls up indeed pictures of the whole civilized world bowing
down to one master at one centre. But it calls up thoughts of princes
who bound the nations together by the tie of a just and equal law; it
calls up thoughts of princes who gathered the nations round them to do
the work of their day in that Eternal Question which needs no reopening
because no diplomacy has ever closed it, the question between light
and darkness, between West and East. But the thought of Empire is in
all shapes the thought, not of brotherhood but of subjection; the word
implies a master who commands and subjects who obey; “Imperium et
Libertas” are names either of which forbids the presence of the other.
The thought of “Empire,” alike in its noblest and its basest forms,
may call up thoughts of nations severed in blood and speech, brought
together, for good or evil, at the bidding of a common master; it
cannot call up the higher thought of men of the same nation, scattered
over distant lands, brought together, not at the bidding of a master,
but at the call of brotherhood, as members of a household still one
however scattered. In the gatherings of the Hellenic folk around the
altars of the gods of Hellas the thought of Empire was unknown. Still
less could the thought of Empire cross the mind when Carthage, in
the pride of her wide dominion, still sent the offerings of a child
to her mother Tyre in her Persian bondage. If Empire there was, if
we must so cruelly thrust the special Roman name either backwards or
forwards, if Athens had her tributaries, if Carthage had her subject
lands, the thought of Empire was cast aside when the higher thought
of brotherhood was called to life. When the just judge from Aitôlia,
representative of the mother-land in its Eleian settlement, bestowed
the Olympic wreath on the Olympic victor, he asked not whether the
city from which that victor came did or did not follow the lead of any
mightier city in war and peace. Athens, keeper of the hoard of Dêlos,
had there no precedence over the smallest town whose tribute helped to
fill her coffers. When the scattered brethren came together on their
day of union, the only master whom they knew was one who sat on a
higher throne than the thrones of Babylon and Susa; the one Imperial
lord whom united Hellas knew was he whose graven form sat in his
majesty in the temple round which they gathered; their only king was
the deathless king of Olympos, the common Father of gods and men.

That this now familiar name of “Empire” expresses a fact, and a
mighty fact, none can doubt. The only doubt that can be raised is
whether the fact of Empire is a wholesome one, whether it is exactly
the side of the position of our island in the world which we should
specially pick out as the thing whereof to boast ourselves. Empire is
dominion; it implies subjects; the name may even suggest unwilling
subjects. From one point of view the analogy which the word first
suggests, the analogy with the first state that bore the name, with
the ruling commonwealth of Rome, is perfect. The People of Rome were,
in constitutional theory, lords and masters of their subject lands,
those provinces which they held as _folkland_ on a mighty scale, the
estates to which the ruling people was not only a corporate sovereign
but a corporate landlord. And so the People of Great Britain, if not
in constitutional theory, yet in forms of daily speech which express
the facts more truly than any constitutional theory, proclaims itself
as the corporate ruler, perhaps the corporate landlord, of no small
portion of the world. If I may quote a phrase which I have myself used
in another place, the “corporate Emperor We,” that manifold Imperial
being of which you and I and all of us rejoice to be members, ranks
high indeed among the potentates of the earth. No phrase comes more
readily to the lips of the patriotic Briton than that of “our Indian
Empire;” and he speaks truly. For “ours” it is; we instinctively call
it so; for “we,” through the Parliaments and Ministries which exist
only by “our” choice, can legislate and administer for millions on
millions of human beings, our subjects, our provincials, who have no
voice in determining their own destiny, but who must humbly accept
their doom from us. “We” hold India, “we” govern India; “we” sometimes,
in our Imperial clemency, stoop to say that we govern it, not in our
own interests but in the interest of those over whom we rule. We
are minded, in short, in dealing with our provinces and with their
subject inhabitants, to be an Emperor after the pattern of Hadrian,
not an Emperor after the pattern of Constantius. But this is not our
only Empire. We have too--the most familiar phrases daily repeat the
form--a Colonial Empire. The instinctive phrase is true, true to the
very letter. We--the same We that have an Indian Empire, have also a
Colonial Empire. For an Empire it is. With reference to them also, I
must again insist on the fact sometimes forgotten, that the freest of
British colonies, those who can act with most unshackled freedom in
their internal dealings, are not like the colonies of old Hellas or of
older Canaan; they are still dependencies, provinces, subject lands,
which have not escaped the absolute dominion of the corporate Emperor.
That they can do ought for themselves is wholly of our grace and
favour; they hold their practical independence as our gift, the gift
of their corporate master. But, more than this, fact will sometimes
over-ride theory even still nearer home. In theory every part of this
United Kingdom has equal rights; there are no provinces, no subject
lands; there is no favoured city or district whose inhabitants have
any claim to bear themselves as the masters of any other. Yet truth
will out; the corporate Emperor will assert himself in defiance of such
pleasing theories. No man says, “We” must govern England, or Scotland,
or Wales, or any part of England, Scotland, or Wales; but we every
day hear the phrases, “We must govern Ireland,” “we” must do this and
that for Ireland, while we should be amazed indeed if the people of
Ireland, any more than the people of India, should take upon themselves
to say back again, “We must govern England.” Nay, I have seen the full
doctrine of Empire, the doctrine which makes the corporate Emperor, not
only ruler but landlord in his provinces, set forth in the clearest
words with regard to one part of what we still formally hold to be an
United Kingdom with equal rights in every part of it. Not long ago I
read something very instructive on this head in that one among English
newspapers which we may be always sure says what its conductors really
think, and not what it is for the moment convenient for party purposes
to say. I there read of Ireland as an island which, if “we” had not
governed, “we” had at least owned, for six hundred years. There are
points in this saying on which it might be well to consult both a
lawyer and a chronologer; but the doctrine of “Empire,” the doctrine
that the people of one part of the United Kingdom are master and
landlord over another part of the United Kingdom, could hardly be set
forth more clearly.

The fact of Empire then cannot be denied. The burthens of Empire, the
responsibilities of Empire, cannot be denied. They are burthens and
responsibilities which we have taken on ourselves, and which it is far
easier to take on ourselves than to get rid of. The only question is
whether this our Imperial position is one on which we need at all pride
ourselves, one about which it is wise to be ever blowing our trumpet
and calling on all the nations of the world to come and admire us. Is
there not a more excellent way, a way which, even if it is too late
to follow it, we may at least mourn that we have not followed? Is it
wholly hopeless, with this strange, yet true, cry of “Empire” daily
dinned into our ears, to rise to the thoughts of the old Greek and the
old Phœnician, the thought of an union of scattered kinsfolk bound
together by a nobler tie than that of being subjects of one Empire or
“peoples” of one sovereign? Will not the memories of this day lift us
above this confused babble about a British Empire patched up out of men
of every race and speech under the sun, to the higher thought of the
brotherhood of the English folk, the one English folk in all its homes?
Surely the burthen of barbaric Empire is at most something that we may
school ourselves to endure; the tie of English brotherhood is something
that we may rejoice to strive after. Cannot our old Hellenic memories
teach us that that brotherhood need be none the less near, none the
less endearing, between communities whose political connexion has been
severed--alas, we may cry, that ever needed severing? The land in
which Washington was born has not yet wholly forgotten the name of the
“old dominion.” Might it not have been better if the word “dominion,”
dominion on the part of the mother-land, had remained as unheard on
the shores of English Virginia as it was on the shores of Hellenic
Sicily? I have elsewhere traced in full the historic causes which led
the colonists of modern Europe to plant only dependencies, provinces,
of the lands from which they severally set forth, while the colonists
of Phœnicia and Hellas planted free and independent cities. It is easy
to trace the causes; it is yet easier to trace the results. Those
results are written in the whole history of the Western hemisphere from
the river of Saint Lawrence to the river of La Plata. It is written
in the fact that, while in the colonies of the elder world the men
who were most honoured were their founders, in the colonies of the
younger world the men who are most honoured are their deliverers. Whom
do we honour this day? Not a man who went forth from the mother-land
to plant a settlement, but a man who helped to tear away the long
planted settlement from the dominion of the mother-land. For the career
of Washington, for the career of Bolivar, there was no room among the
colonies of Ionia or the colonies of Sicily. Between them and their
parents in the elder Hellas, there was no bitter remembrance of a time
of parting, a time of parting in anger and in bloodshed. It would seem
as if the colonial history of later times had picked out Korkyra and
Kamarina as the model colonies of the elder time. I have said that
among the worthies of old time the one whose fame is most akin to the
worthy of our day is the deliverer of Syracuse, Timoleôn of Corinth.
But that we describe him as Timoleôn of Corinth at once goes to the
root of the matter. That we have to speak of Timoleôn of Corinth, while
we can hardly speak of Washington of England or of Bolivar of Spain,
brings out in its fullest life the difference between the colonial
systems of the elder and the younger Europe. The deliverer of Syracuse
was a man of Corinth, a man whom the mother-land sent forth to free
her daughter alike from domestic tyrants and from foreign enemies.
The deliverer of Virginia and her sisters was a man of Virginia, a
man who had once played his part against the foreign enemies of the
English name, but whose abiding glory was won by parting asunder the
newer lands of England from the elder. I shrink from saying that he
had to fight against tyrants or enemies--let us strive to veil the
grievous fact under some gentler words--but so far as he had to deal
with tyrants or with enemies, they were tyrants and enemies to be
looked for in the mother-land. Timoleôn had to strive against strangers
and hirelings, against Carthage and the motley hosts which she sent
against Hellenic Sicily. Washington had to strive against strangers and
hirelings, but they were strangers and hirelings whom the elder England
sent to work the subjection of the younger. Timoleôn had to break
no tie of allegiance; in freeing the daughter city he was carrying
out the bidding of the mother. Washington had to trample allegiance
under foot; he had to become, in legal form, a rebel and a traitor;
he had to free the daughter-land in defiance of the bidding of the
mother-land and their common sovereign. In short, his work, the work of
his fellows, was to work the dismemberment of the British Empire. But
in working the dismemberment of the British Empire, they wrought, I say
once more, the true Expansion of England, the enlargement of the bounds
of the English folk, and of all that the English bears with it to all
its newly settled homes.

We have come back again to our paradox. What is the “Expansion of
England?” Do the words mean simply the expansion of the dominion of
England, or do they mean the expansion of England itself? Is it the
expansion of England when Englishmen go forth to other lands, among men
of other tongues, to toil, to strive, to rule, but not to dwell? The
dominion of England may be expanded when men found a counting-house, a
barrack, an office of government, a court of judgement, and when they
have done their work in one of these, come back to enjoy their wealth
or their honours in the land of their birth, the land which they mean
to be the resting-place of their bones, the dwelling-place of their
children. It is surely the expansion of England only when a new land
is won for the English folk as an abiding-place for ever. When men go
forth to found, not merely a seat of wealth or a seat of power, but a
home where they may live and die, where they may leave their graves and
leave their children to guard them, then is England itself expanded.
So it was in Kent; so it was in Virginia; so it is at this day on
countless shores and islands beyond the Ocean. There is no expansion of
a land and its folk in the mere winning of barbaric dominion, or even
in holding kindred or neighbouring nations under a rule which they love
not. England is not expanded either by keeping “our” dominion over the
Green Island that lies beside us to the West or by extending “our”
dominion over the Golden Chersonêsos far to the East. Do not mistake
me; to annex, to coerce, to hold in bondage, may, in some unhappy state
of things, be a solemn and fearful duty; it can never be matter for
rejoicing or for boasting. But there is matter of rejoicing, so far as
boasting is lawful, there is matter for boasting, whenever the English
folk wins a new land, not merely to rule over but to dwell in, a new
land in which the speech, the laws, the traditions of England may be
as much at home as they are here in this our England in Britain. What
is England? The old Teutonic name speaks for itself; it is the land of
the English, the land of the English wherever they may dwell. Wherever
the men of England settle, there springs to life a new England. There
was a day when Massachusetts was not England; there was an earlier
day when Kent itself was not England. The elder and the younger land,
the land beyond the sea and the land beyond the Ocean, have been made
England by the same process. Men went forth from the first England
to found a second, and from the second England to found a third. In
our onward march we passed from the European mainland to the European
island and from the European island to the American mainland. In each
case there was a making of England, an expansion of England; John Smith
on the shore of Virginia did but go on with the work which Hengest had
begun on the shore of Kent. In each case the newer England became the
greater; men crossed the sea to found a greater England than the first,
and they crossed the Ocean to found a greater England than the second.
In each case they expanded England; but they did not in both cases
expand the dominion of England. At Ebbsfleet, the Naxos of Britain, men
founded a new England in Britain as independent of the older England on
the mainland as the new Hellas in Sicily was independent of the older
Hellas by the Ægæan. With the second voyage it was not so; the third
England beyond the Ocean did not arise free and independent; it needed
an after-work, an after-work never needed in the second, to make it
so. And that work was surely an expansion, an expansion of England.
We come once more to our paradox; may it not be that England herself
may be expanded by the very cutting short of her dominion? Again, what
is England? Do we mean by it simply the dominions of the Crown of
England--or rather the dominion of a Crown of whose kingdom the British
England is but a part? Or do we mean by it the land of the English
folk, wherever they may dwell? Is there any contradiction in holding
that the land of the English folk may be made greater, greater in mere
physical extension, greater too in all that makes a folk and an English
folk, by changes which cut short the mere dominion of the English
Crown, which, in other words, work the dismemberment of the British
Empire? May not the œcumenical England, the whole congregation of
English people dispersed throughout the world, become greater, as the
mere dominion of part of England, the dominion of this second England,
this insular England, this British England, becomes narrower? Are we to
be told that men of English blood, of English speech, of English law,
ceased to be English, because they ceased to be under the rule of the
sovereign of the British England? Once more back again to our ancient
memories. Call up once more a man of Carthage; ask him if he ceased to
be Phœnician, if he threw away the memory and the fellowship of the
Phœnician name, because, in his new home on the shore of Africa, he
owed reverence only and not allegiance to the mother-city on the shore
of Syria? Call up once more a man of Syracuse--I will not say one who
helped on one moonlight night to thrust down the Ionian invader from
the steeps of Epipolai or who plied his oar for the Dorian city in
the last fight in the Great Harbour--throw a veil over the strife of
Greek with Greek, as we will throw a veil over the day of shame when
men from the second England wrought a barbarian’s havoc on the rising
council-house of the third,--let us rather say, call up one who, on
the day of Salamis, helped in a work no less than that of Salamis by
the side of Gelôn at Himera, call up one who struck the last blow for
freedom and Hellenic life amid the breached walls and burning houses of
Selinous, one who marched forth with the deliverer from the mother-land
to win the wreath of Hellenic victory by the banks of Krimisos--ask
such an one if he was less a Greek, if he had less share in the name
and brotherhood of Greece, because his city between the two Sicilian
havens was a commonwealth as free and independent as the elder city
between the two Peloponnesian gulfs? True, the man of Carthage, the
man of Syracuse, had, unlike the man of Virginia or Massachusetts, no
yoke of the motherland to cast aside; but surely the man of Virginia or
Massachusetts was, if anything, less English when he knew dependence,
when he had to obey the decrees of an assembly in whose choice he had
no part, than he became when he rose to the full age and stature of
an Englishman by winning those full rights of freedom which Carthage
and Syracuse had from the beginning. We have so strangely passed away
from the political conceptions of earlier ages, that the word _colony_
is held to imply dependence. In the old Thirteen lands of America we
hear of the colonial period as meaning the time of imperfect freedom;
when full freedom is won, the name of colony is cast away. And yet
surely a colony of England was not meant to be a mere Roman _colonia_,
a mere Athenian κληρουχία, a garrison to hold down a subject province;
it was surely meant to be, like a Greek ἀποικία, a new home of English
life and English speech. In that nobler sense of the word, a colony
which is not independent has not risen to the full rank of a colony;
it is hardly a home for the new folk of the mother-land; it is little
more than an outpost of its dominion. Surely the Englishmen of those
Thirteen lands, who had unhappily to fight their way to the full rights
of Englishmen, did not cease to be Englishmen, to be colonists of
England, because they won them. Surely--I have said it already and
I may have to say it again--they became in a higher and truer sense
colonies of the English folk because they had ceased to be dependencies
of the British Crown.

I speak of Thirteen lands; and thirteen is as it were a magic number
in the history of federations. It is a memorable number alike in the
League of Achaia and in the Old League of High Germany. But in none
of the three was Thirteen to be the fated stint and bound among the
sharers in the common freedom. Thirteen stars, thirteen stripes, were
wrought on the banner of the United States of America in their first
day of independence, the day of their second birth as truly and fully
a second English nation. Look at that banner now; tell the number of
those stars and call them by their names, each of them the name of a
free commonwealth of the English folk. See we not there the expansion
of England in its greatest form? See we not there the work of Hengest
and Cerdic carried out on a scale on which it could never have
been carried out in the island which they won for us? The dependent
provinces of England stretched but in name to the banks of the Father
of Waters; from the border ridge of Alleghany, as from the height
of Pisgah, they did but take a glance at the wider land beyond. The
independent colonies of England have found those bounds too strait
for them. They have gone on and taken possession; they have carried
the common speech and the common law, beyond the mountains, beyond
the rivers, beyond the vaster mountains, beyond the Eastern Ocean
itself, till America marches upon Asia. Such has been the might of
independence; such has been the strength of a folk which drew a new
life from the axe which did not hew it down, but by a health-giving
stroke parted it asunder. It may be, it is only in human nature that
so it should be, that the fact that independence was won by the sword
drew forth a keener life, a more conscious energy, a firmer and fiercer
purpose to grow and to march on. The growth of a land free from the
beginning might perchance have been slower; let it be so; a slight
check on the forward march would not have been dearly purchased by
unbroken friendship between parent and child from the beginning.

It is a strange feeling which comes over us as we stand by the southern
bank of the Ohio, as we look over the wide stream which once parted
French and English lands, as we look from what once was dependent
England into what once was dependent France. And as there we muse, we
think of the earlier work of the worthy of to-day. We think of the
share that he had in changing so large a part of dependent France into
what was still for a while to be dependent England. Other names from
either side of Ocean press on us as we trace out that old border-land
and think upon its history. I found something to muse upon where amid
the smoke of Pittsburg the name still dwells of a chief worthy of my
own land and of my own college. But his name comes first who was to
play his part in a twofold expansion of England, who was first to help
in the mere enlargement of her dominion, and then to be foremost in
the mightier work of enlarging her very self by snapping the dominion
of one part of the English folk over another. Washington, fighting for
one King George, did well; Washington, fighting against another King
George, did better. Look again at Washington’s own land, and see how
healthy is the process of dismemberment to a free commonwealth. Look
at Virginia, mother of Presidents, mother of States, the Megalopolis
of a new Achaia, worthy of a place even beside the city of Philopoimên
and Polybios. If we hold that England is expanded by the dismemberment
of her dominion, the old dominion of England was expanded by the
dismemberment of herself. The land of the English folk is enlarged as
free Virginia throws off free Kentucky, as the Thirteen stars admit
a fourteenth member of the constellation. In that starry firmament
there is no lost Pleiad; even the Lone Star needed not long to shine
in loneliness. The man of this day and his fellows lighted a candle
which cannot be put out, a candle which is ever handing on its flame to
lesser lights which may one day be the greater. And in the wider view
of the English folk, in the wider view of England, it was in truth in
and for England that they lighted it.

       *       *       *       *       *

On this twenty-second day of February I have said but little, I have
time left to say but little, of the man by whose birth that day was
made memorable. I cannot speak now of the modest virtues of one on whom
greatness was indeed thrust, a greatness which consisted, not in the
brilliancy of fitful genius, not in the growth of any one gift so as
to overshadow and overwhelm others not less needful; but in the equal
balance of all, the unswerving honesty, the native dignity, which
enabled him to play a worthy part on so many stages, to act wisely and
righteously in any post to which the chances of a chequered life might
call him. Still less have I time this day to speak of his fellows, of
the memorable band of which he was but the foremost, on one of the
many sides of his life perhaps hardly the foremost. When we speak of
George Washington and his work, the kindred work of Alexander Hamilton
must never be forgotten. Shall I, in the course of my office here,
ever reach those times? Or shall I keep to my old familiar ground of
Sikyôn and Megalopolis, knowing well that there is one among us who can
deal better than I can with the federal history of Schwyz and Zürich,
that there is another among us who can deal better than I can with the
federal history of Pennsylvania and Rhode Island? Be this as it may,
we deal this time, this twenty-second of February, with an idea rather
than with a man. We look at the man in his work. And we would hold up
his work as a model. There are other lands in which his work may again
be done, and done more peacefully. No new Bunker Hill, no Saratoga,
no Yorktown, would be needed to call into being other independent
Englands as free and mighty as either the elder or the younger. Other
continents beside Europe and America have become homes of the English
folk, and the homes of the English folk in those other lands may not
always lag behind the great home of the English folk between the
Oceans. The tale of “the English in America” is now in telling, in
most worthy telling, here among us. Some other pens in times to come
may write the tale of “the English in Australia,” of “the English in
Africa,” and they may have to trace the story after the same pattern.
Let Federation grow and prosper, so long as no contradictory adjective
is tacked on to a substantive so worthy of all honour. Where there is
Empire, there is no brotherhood; where there is brotherhood, there is
no Empire. I shall hardly see the day; but some of you may see it, when
the work of Washington and Hamilton may be wrought again without slash
or blow, when, alongside of the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United
States of America, the United States of Australia, the United States
of South Africa, the United States of New Zealand, may stand forth as
independent homes of Englishmen, bound to one another by the common tie
of brotherhood, and bound by loyal reverence, and by no meaner bond, to
the common parent of all.



We have heard a great deal of late about “Imperial Federation.” And
the votaries of “Imperial Federation” promise us very wonderful things
if the scheme for which they are striving should ever become more than
a scheme. Some of the more enthusiastic talkers have told us of the
coming union on equal terms of all the English people--it has sometimes
even been put, of all the English-speaking people--all over the world.
We are not distinctly told whether those who are not English-speaking
people are to be shut out from the benefits of the scheme. But the
scheme is spoken of as being something specially and intensely English,
unless indeed the word “British” is liked better. It is not wonderful
that such promises have won over many minds. “Imperial Federation” has
a grand sound; it has an air as if it meant something. And if it did
mean what it is said to mean, the union, on closer and more brotherly
terms, of all men of English descent or of all speakers of the English
tongue, it would mean something to the carrying out of which all of us
would surely be ready to lend a helping hand. There are however some
little points to be thought of on the other side. First, there is the
name; then there is the thing. It may be some objection to the name
that it is altogether meaningless, or rather that it is a contradiction
in terms. It may be some objection to the thing that, whether the
results of the scheme should turn out to be good or bad, they could
never be the particular results which its votaries, at least its more
enthusiastic votaries, tell us that they are aiming at. What is meant
might seem to be the closer and more equal political union of all, or
a part, of the dominions of the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland.
Now that, whether good or bad, possible or impossible, in itself,
would be a very different thing from an union of all English-speaking
people--and, we must suppose, of none other. It tells a little against
the name of the scheme that what is “Imperial” cannot be “Federal,”
and that what is “Federal” cannot be “Imperial.” It tells a little
against its substance that none can expect the scheme to carry out its
professed purpose except those who have forgotten the existence of
India and the existence of the United States.

The simple truth is that the phrase “Imperial Federation” is a
contradiction in terms, that what is imperial cannot be federal, and
that what is federal cannot be imperial. To make out this proposition
we must look a little more closely into the history of the words
concerned. One of them at least seems to have greatly changed its
meaning of late years, and it would be well to know the exact sense in
which it is used.

The word “imperial” is the adjective of the substantive “empire.”
Now what is meant by “empire”? Speaking as a “pedant,” I cannot help
saying that clearness of thought would have greatly gained if the
word _Empire_ had always been sternly confined to what was its strict
meaning for ages. It would have been well if the name had never been
applied to anything but the Roman Empire and those powers which
professed to continue the Roman Empire. Or, if it ever went beyond
that limit, it would have been well if it had been used only when it
was wished to assert an analogy between one of those powers and some
other. In this last way it is true and instructive to speak of the
Mogul Empire in India, which supplies so many points of analogy with
the Empire of Rome; but, after the vague way in which the word is used
now, such an application of it would fail to strike many minds as
having any special meaning. The word “empire” in truth has taken to
itself a quite new use within a very few years past. At no time that I
know of would any one have scrupled to speak, in poetical or rhetorical
language, of “the British empire,” “this great empire,” and the like.
But I can remember the time when no one would have used those phrases,
except in language more or less poetical or rhetorical. That is to
say, though the speaker may not have consciously thought of suggesting
any analogy with the Roman Empire, yet the traditions of the time when
those words could not have been used without implying such an analogy
had still left their stamp on language. “Empire” was a word somewhat
out of the common; it would not have been found in the dry language
of an advertisement or in such notices as in those days answered to a
telegram. Now the word is used without any special feeling. It seems
to have taken its place quite naturally as the highest term in an
ascending scale. As the county is greater than the parish, and the
kingdom greater than the county, so the empire is greater than the
kingdom. The word “empire” is used as one that comes as naturally to
the lips as “parish,” “county,” or “kingdom.” This change of language
doubtless comes of a change of facts, or at any rate of a change
in the way of looking at facts. But it is none the less an abuse of
language, and one that has led to not a few confusions.

When Sir James Mackintosh, in his speech on behalf of Peltier, spoke of
Napoleon Buonaparte, First Consul of the French Republic, as “master
of the mightiest empire that the civilized world ever saw,” it was a
rhetorical flourish, and it may be that the thought of Rome was not
wholly absent from the speaker’s mind. When, a little later, Napoleon
Buonaparte himself bestowed the title of “empire” on his dominions,
by no means as a flourish, but as a formal title and a title full
of meaning, the thought of Rome was assuredly fully present to his
mind. The use of the phrase “British Empire,” as a technical phrase
from which all memory of Rome has passed away, is a good deal later
than the use of the phrase “French Empire” as a technical phrase from
which all memory of Rome had certainly not passed away. In one use
indeed the “Empire of Britain” and other phrases of the like kind are
very old indeed. They are common in the tenth and eleventh centuries,
and they come in again in the sixteenth. They are rare between the
eleventh century and the sixteenth, and they go out of use after the
sixteenth. That is to say, they were used when there was a reason for
using them, and they went out of use when there was no longer a reason.
In the earlier period they were meant to assert two things; that the
English King was superior lord over all the other princes of Britain,
and that the continental Emperor was not superior lord over him. In
the sixteenth century, when, under Charles the Fifth, the continental
Empire was again threatening, Henry the Eighth found it needful
again to assert with no small emphasis that “the Kingdom of England
is an Empire.” I made this remark long ago; it has been set forth
with increased force and with fresh proofs in the recent work of Mr.
Friedmann. In the seventeenth century, when the continental Emperors
were no longer threatening, and when the common King of England and
Scotland had no need to assert any lordship over himself, such language
naturally went out of use, or sank to the level of an occasional
survival or an occasional flourish.

From the newest use of the word “empire” and the still newer use of the
adjective “imperial,” all memories of this kind have passed away. It
is hard to say whether the phrase “Imperial Parliament” was the last
use in the old sense or the first use in the new. I suspect that it is
not in strictness either the one or the other. It was meant to express
the union of three kingdoms into a greater whole; but it was certainly
not a protest against any continental empire; nor did it carry with it
all the meaning which the word “imperial” has lately taken to itself.
And this use of the word is singularly isolated. It is not applied
to anything else in the same formal way[2]; nor is it our custom to
apply any adjective in the same way. On the continent adjectives like
“Imperial,” “Royal,” “Grand-ducal,” are employed at every moment. The
post-office, the police-office, anything else that has to do with any
branch of public administration, has the _K._, the _K. K._, the _R._,
the _I. R._ or anything else of the kind, prominently put forward. We
do not write up “Royal Post-office,” though we may mark it with the
more personal badge of V. R. The reason may be that on the continent
we have sometimes to ask whether it is empire, kingdom, or grand-duchy
that we are in. Here no man ever doubted about being in the Kingdom
of England, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland. But there is no reason to think that the phrase
“Imperial Parliament,” when it was first used, meant anything more than
“Parliament of England, Scotland, and Ireland.” That that Parliament
could legislate for any part of the dominions of the King of Great
Britain and Ireland no man doubted; but it is not likely that anything
beyond Great Britain and Ireland was consciously in the minds of those
who devised the title. It is only in quite late times, in times within
my own memory, that the word “empire” has come into common use as a set
term for something beyond the kingdom. It is only in times later still
that the adjective “imperial” has come into common use, in such phrases
as “imperial interests,” “imperial purposes.” At the beginning of the
present century those phrases would certainly not have been used as
_quasi_-technical terms, though something like them might at any time
have been used as a rhetorical figure.

In the present use of the words there is always a latent ambiguity.
What is the Empire? The whole of the Queen’s dominions, some one will
answer, as distinguished from the mere Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland. But in what sense is this an Empire? The word is clearly not
used in the old sense anywhere but in India. To the title of “Empress
of India” there were good objections on other grounds; but it cannot be
denied that it accurately expresses the nature of the Queen’s power in
India. The Empress of India is Lady over dependent princes and nations
in India, just as the “totius Britanniæ Basileus” once was lord over
dependent princes and nations in Britain. But this sense does not in
the same way apply to the Queen’s dominions in America and Australia;
it hardly applies to her dominions in Africa. In what sense do these
last form parts of an empire? Is the word meant to imply or to deny
any superiority on the part of the seat of empire, that is, on the
part of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland? Or is it, by that
odd confusion of thought and language which is by no means uncommon,
meant somehow to imply that there is such a superiority, but that
such superiority ought to exist no longer? As long as the word was a
mere figure or flourish, designed simply as a vague name for a great
extent of territory, it was needless to ask its strict meaning; it had
no strict meaning, and could not mislead anybody. But now that it has
become a technical term, we have a right to ask its strict meaning. It
adds to the difficulty that we are dealing with an Empire without an
Emperor. The Queen is not Empress anywhere but in India; the title may
not even be used in the United Kingdom. Otherwise the natural meaning
of the phrase “imperial interests” would seem to be the interests of
the Emperor, as opposed to any other. It would mean the interests of
the imperial power, as opposed to the interests of the states which are
dependent on the imperial power. The word as now used seems intended to
mean the interests of the whole of the Queen’s dominions, as opposed to
the interests of any particular part of them. But this is an odd use
of the word “imperial.” We should never speak of “royal interests,”
to mean the interests of the whole kingdom, as distinguished from the
interests of any particular part of it. “Royal interests,” if the
words had any meaning, would mean the special interests of the King.
“Imperial interests” would as naturally mean the special interests of
the Emperor. Only, as there is no Emperor, it is possible for the word
to go about and pick up for itself less obvious meanings.

When then we hear of “Imperial Federation,” we first wish to know the
meaning of the word “imperial;” next we wish to know the meaning of
the word “federation.” I once defined “a federal government in its
perfect form” as “one which forms a single state with regard to other
nations, but which consists of many states with regard to its internal
government.” And I have seen that definition quoted with approval
by advocates of Imperial Federation[3]. It has been argued that a
federation that answers my definition is already formed--perhaps not
by the whole of the Queen’s dominions, but by “the United Kingdom, the
Dominion of Canada, the different Australian colonies, New Zealand, and
the Cape.” From such a list I could not have left out the Kingdom of
Man and the Duchy of Normandy--that part of it I mean which clave to
its own dukes and remained Norman, when the rest submitted to a foreign
king and became French. Nor are we told whether India, Heligoland,
Gibraltar, and a few other places, are parts of the federation or not.

Now the singular thing is that some of those who look upon the
connexion of the United Kingdom with the other parts of the Queen’s
dominions as being already a federal union are fully sensible of
the fact which at once shuts out the federal relation. “The United
Kingdom,” it has been well put, “keeps to itself, and absorbs within
itself, the foreign policy of the whole realm.” The word “realm,”
commonly used as equivalent to “kingdom,” seems here to be used as
equivalent to “empire,” and the relation here described may be fairly
called Imperial. The same fact has been put yet more strongly;

  “As regards internal affairs the colonies have self-government.
  As regards foreign affairs, they are subjects, not merely of the
  Queen, but of our Parliament--that is of the inhabitants of the
  United Kingdom, or rather of such of those inhabitants as are

In a rough practical sense this is true; but that it should be true,
even in a rough practical sense, curiously illustrates the conventional
nature of our whole system. In theory the whole foreign policy rests
in the hands of the Crown. The Queen cannot pass a law or impose
a tax without the consent of Parliament; she can declare war or
conclude a treaty without asking Parliament about it. But, in a rough
practical way, Parliament, and through Parliament the constituencies,
can exercise a good deal of influence on foreign policy, though an
influence much slighter and much less direct than that which they
exercise on domestic policy. But the colonies can exercise no influence
at all on foreign affairs; therefore they are not only subjects in the
sense in which any man in a monarchy is a “subject” of the Emperor,
King, or Grand-duke; they are subjects in the sense of being a society
of men which is subject to another society. They are, in short, what a
Greek would have called ὑπήκοοι and a Swiss _Unterthanen_. And, large
as their actual powers of self-government are, they are all--unlike
the immemorial rights of Man and Jersey--mere grants from the Crown
or from the Parliament of the United Kingdom itself. And, though the
exercise of the power is in some cases just as unlikely as the exercise
of the power of the Crown to refuse assent to a bill that has passed
both Houses, still the Parliament of the United Kingdom has never
formally given up its right to legislate for any part of the dominions
of the sovereign of the United Kingdom.

Practically however the chief British colonies are independent as
concerns the internal affairs of each; they are practically dependent
or subject only as regards the common policy of the “realm” or
“empire.” And it has been said, and that not by an opponent of
“Imperial Federation,” that

  “These two opposing principles, subordination on the one hand,
  and self-government on the other--we might almost say subjection
  and freedom--cannot long co-exist. This imperfect, incomplete,
  one-sided federation must end either in disintegration or
  incomplete and equal and perfect federation.”

The only question is whether a federation thus limited is federation
at all, and not really subjection. When we speak of “imperfect,
incomplete, one-sided federation,” the adjectives destroy the
substantive; they show that the relation spoken of is not a federal
relation at all. All the elements of a federation are wanting. There
is no voluntary union of independent states, keeping some powers to
themselves and granting other powers to a central authority of their
own creation. There is instead a number of dependent bodies, to which
a central authority older than themselves has been graciously pleased
to grant certain powers. This state of things is not federation, but
subjection. It is perfectly true that an American State, as such, has
no more direct voice in the foreign affairs of the American Union than
a British colony has in the foreign affairs of the British “empire.”
But why? The colony has no such voice, because it is a subject
community and never had a voice in such matters. The American State has
no such voice, because the direction of foreign affairs is one of the
powers which the States have ceded to the Federal authority. But, more
than this, not only has the colony no direct voice in ordering foreign
affairs, itself and its citizens have no voice, direct or indirect,
in choosing those who have the ordering of them. But the American
State and its citizens have a direct voice in choosing those who have
the ordering of the foreign affairs of the Union. The citizens of the
several States, as citizens of the United States, choose the [electors
of the] President, by whom foreign affairs are actually ordered. The
States themselves in their Legislatures choose the Senators, by whom
the acts of the President are approved or annulled. Here are two very
different stories; the difference between the position of the American
State and the position of the British colony is nothing short of the
difference between federation and subjection.

In truth the relation between the United Kingdom and the colonies does
not answer my old definition of federation which it has been said to
answer. The colonies are not “states” in the sense of that definition.
The “states” there spoken of are communities like the cities of Achaia,
the cantons of Switzerland, the states of America, sovereign and
independent communities, which, while keeping to themselves certain
of the attributes of sovereignty, have by their own act ceded certain
other of its attributes to a central authority[4]. The colonies
are not states in this sense; instead of having granted any powers
to a central authority, they have only such powers as the central
authority chose to grant to them. They are not states; they are only
municipalities on a great scale. I shall doubtless be told that the
colonies can alter their criminal law, their marriage law, and a crowd
of other laws, which a municipality at home cannot alter. But why? The
colonies can do all these things, simply because Parliament has given
them the power to do them; and Parliament can, if it chooses, give the
same power to the Common Council of London or to the parish vestry of
Little Peddlington.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus far we have been dealing with a state of things which may very
likely be “imperial,” but which is assuredly very far from “federal.”
It is a state which--we have good authority for so saying--cannot last
very long, but which must soon be exchanged either for disintegration
or for federation. The question in truth comes to this; Shall an
“empire” break up or shall it be changed into a federation? To speak
of changing an imperfect federation into a perfect one gives a false
idea of the case. What is really proposed to be done is not to change a
lax confederation into a closer one or an imperfect confederation into
a perfect one. It is to bring in federation, as a perfectly new thing,
where at present there is no federation, but its opposite, subjection.
And it is proposed to bring in federation, not only as a perfectly new
thing, but under circumstances utterly unlike those under which any of
the present or past confederations of the world ever came into being.
The proposal that a ruling state--if any one chooses to call it so, an
“imperial” state--should come down from its position of empire, and
enter into terms of equal confederation with its subject communities,
is a very remarkable proposal, and one which has perhaps never before
been made in the history of the world. It may therefore be well to take
a glimpse at the causes which have led to so unprecedented a proposal
and to the unprecedented dilemma of which it forms one horn.

It is this subjection of the colonies to the mother-country which
is, as I have fully argued elsewhere, the great point of difference
between modern European colonies and those colonies of the elder
world which have in other respects so much in common with them. While
the relations between metropolis and colony are the brightest facts
of Greek or Phœnician political life, in modern times the relations
between mother-country and colony have often been among the darkest.
The subjection of the colony is, as none see more clearly than some
advocates of Imperial Federation, an unnatural thing, at the very least
a thing which becomes unnatural as soon as the colony has outgrown its
childhood. Then comes the alternative, “disintegration” or federation.
That is, Shall the colonies part from the mother-country and become
independent, or shall they remain united to the mother-country on
some terms other than those of subjection? In the Greek system the
alternative could not occur; where the colony was independent from
the beginning, there was no room for “disintegration.” And though we
are sure that the mother-country, taught by experience, would not now
think of trying to keep by force any colony that wished to separate,
yet “disintegration” is a process which is perhaps not to be desired in
itself. It must be better either never to have been united or never to
separate. The separation may be needful, but it must be something of an
unpleasant wrench. The Greek system made it needless. Metropolis and
colony were all the better friends because the relation of subjection
had never existed between them.

But it is the other alternative of federation which we have now to
discuss. Is that alternative, the substitution of federation for
empire, possible? Let us at least remember that what is proposed
is unlike anything that ever happened in the world before. That
certainly does not of itself prove that the proposed scheme is either
impossible or undesirable; still it is a fact worth bearing in mind.
It is always dangerous to imagine a precedent where there is none. A
perfectly new scheme should stand forth as a perfectly new scheme, as
something which may commend itself by its abstract merits, but which
has nothing in the way of experience to recommend it. And such is the
scheme of federation between the mother-country and the colonies.
No ruling state has ever admitted its subject states into a federal
relation[5]. Ruling states have often admitted subject states to equal
privileges with themselves; but the promotion has taken the shape, not
of federation but of absorption; that is, subjects were raised to the
rank of citizens. Of this Rome is the great example; her citizenship
was gradually extended, first to the Italian allies--fruit of their
war of independence--and then by slow degrees to the provinces also.
Now the people of our colonies need no admission to citizenship. They
are already British subjects; the essence of the modern colonial
relation is that they remain British subjects. The inhabitants of the
colonies, each man by himself, are the equals of the inhabitants of the
United Kingdom; this or that colonist may be an elector in the United
Kingdom; let him come and live in the United Kingdom and he may become
a member of Parliament, a cabinet minister, a peer of the realm. It is
only the communities, as communities, that are subject. Now it would
be quite possible to unite the mother-country and the colonies in a
way that might be called at pleasure the removal of subjection or its
aggravation. They might be united as Rome and her Italian allies were
united, as Scotland, and Ireland were united to England. They might
send members to the Parliament of the United Kingdom in fair proportion
to their numbers. They would then have exactly the same control over
the general affairs of the kingdom, “realm,” “empire,” whatever it is
to be called, which the inhabitants of the United Kingdom have now.
And, considering the geography of the case, it may be that, instead
of Westminster, some point, some island perhaps, more central for the
whole “empire” might be chosen as the place of assembly. But, with
such an union as this, the local Legislatures of the colonies must be
abolished. The Parliament of the whole “empire” must legislate for
the whole “empire.” The colony, in short, must rise or sink to the
level of a county. The soil of the colony, the people of the colony,
would receive the most perfect equality with the soil and the people
of the mother-country. Subjection would be utterly done away with.
Canada would be no more subject than York. But a share in the control
of the affairs of the whole empire would be bought by the loss of all
special control over the affairs of the colony itself. Some might
think that such a price would be too dear. Self-government, the kind
of self-government which the colonies have hitherto enjoyed, would
come to an end. There would be only that lesser self-government which
belongs to an English county or borough; the internal affairs of any
colony would be legislated for by an assembly in which the members
for that colony might be outvoted. Subjection, in short, formally
abolished, would practically be made more complete.

I believe that nobody proposes anything like this. I feel sure that
every colony would at once reject such a scheme. Still such a scheme
would be the consistent carrying out of one form of union, and that the
most perfect form. But it may be said, We wish to preserve the colonial
Parliaments, and at the same time to have members for the colonies in
the Imperial Parliament. The question would then arise, the question
which arises also in the case of Ireland, Are the colonial members to
have votes in the affairs of the United Kingdom? If the Parliaments
of the colonies are to remain, while members for the colonies have
votes in the Imperial Parliament which, it is to be supposed, is still
to settle the affairs of the United Kingdom, one of two results must
come. If, while the affairs of the colonies are discussed in their
own assemblies, the affairs of the United Kingdom are discussed in an
assembly in which the representatives of the colonies have votes, then
the mother-country will in truth become dependent on the colonies.
The other alternative is that the dormant power of the Imperial
Parliament to legislate for the colonies, a power which has never been
formally laid aside, will be called into new being whenever it suits
the purposes of the members for the United Kingdom. The difficulties
and confusions of such a state as this would be endless; so would
be those that would follow on the scheme which would doubtless be
proposed as their remedy. That would be something like this. As the
colonial Parliaments settle the affairs of the colonies, so let the
Parliament of the United Kingdom still settle the affairs of the
United Kingdom; let the colonial members who are added to it in its
“Imperial” character vote only on “Imperial” questions, and leave the
affairs of Great Britain and Ireland to be settled by the members for
Great Britain and Ireland. But to say nothing of the odd position of
men who would be members of Parliament on one division and not members
of Parliament on another, how is the distinction to be drawn? Even in
a real federal constitution, where the States surrender certain named
powers to the federal authority and keep all other powers, questions
will arise whether this or that point is of federal or cantonal
competence. How much more will such questions arise when it may be
asked in almost every case of legislation, Does this matter concern the
colonies or not? Would, for instance, such a question as Irish Home
Rule, or any change in any direction in the relations between Ireland
and Great Britain, be looked on as an “Imperial” question, or as one
touching Great Britain and Ireland only[6]? It is often hard enough
to settle rules for assemblies called into being for the first time;
but how much harder will it be, when an assembly has had for ages an
absolutely boundless range of powers, and where every member has always
had an equal voice on all subjects, to bring in a new class of members
who shall have votes on certain classes of subjects only, and those
classes of subjects which it will be practically impossible to define.

       *       *       *       *       *

But, be any scheme of this kind good or bad, possible or impossible,
it is not Federation. We have seen elsewhere what Federation means
and how federations grow. A federal union involves a certain loss of
power and position on the part of the states which unite to form it.
But, as federations have been formed hitherto, that loss of power and
position has either been merely nominal or else has been fully made up
in other ways. When the Achaian cities, the Swiss cantons, the Batavian
provinces, the American States, were threatened by enemies, whom they
could resist only by union, it was worth their while to give up the
independent power of peace and war; for each city or state to cleave
to it would have meant for each city or state to be subdued singly.
In some of these cases many of the states had never really exercised
the independent powers of peace and war. There was no moment when
Aargau or Indiana could have made war on its own account; and, if we
say that there was a moment when Massachusetts or Pennsylvania might
have done so, it was only an ideal moment which had no real historical
being. In each of the great federal unions some of the members, in
some of them all the members, distinctly gained in political position
by entering the Union. Federation is a check on independence; but many
of the states had never known separate independence. But it will be
quite another thing to ask a great power, a ruling power, a mighty
and ancient kingdom, which has for ages held its place among the
foremost nations of the earth, to give up its dominion, to give up its
independence, to sink of its own will to the level of a new State or
Canton. It will be quite another thing to ask the Parliament of such
a kingdom, a Parliament which has for ages been a sovereign assembly,
which has for a very long time believed itself to be the first of all
assemblies, a Parliament whose range of functions has been boundless,
whose will has known no limit save the limits which the laws of nature
impose on all wills--to ask such a Parliament as this to come down from
its seat, to give up to some other assembly not yet in being the widest
and greatest of its powers. In any real federation between the United
Kingdom and the colonies, the Parliament of the United Kingdom would be
no more than the Legislature of an American state or a Swiss canton; it
would have to content itself with those lesser powers which it would
not be called upon to surrender, with mere local powers over the mere
local affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. No
voice, direct or indirect, in the great business of the world could
be allowed to such a purely local body, any more than it is at this
moment allowed to the Legislature of Bern or of New York. We must look
things in the face, and this is what we have to look in the face.
Perhaps not one man in a thousand who has chattered about “Imperial
Federation” has ever stopped to think what “federation” means, any
more than he has stopped to think what “empire” means. Most likely he
means something quite different from the picture which has just been
drawn. Most likely he thinks that Great Britain and the Parliament
of Great Britain will somehow become greater by becoming parts of an
“Imperial Federation.” All this confusion comes of using words without
thinking of their meaning. If by “federation” is meant some wholly new
device, something the like of which is not to be found either in the
existing world or in any past age of the world, we can better discuss
the merits of the new device if it is called by some new name of its
own, rather than if it uses old names like “empire” and “federation”
in some strange sense. But if by federation is meant a known political
system, a system which has existed in the past and which does exist
in the present, if is meant such a constitution as once was in Achaia
and Lykia, as actually is in Switzerland and America, then we may
undoubtedly answer that such a demand was never yet made on any ruling
people or any ruling assembly, and that the Parliament and people of
Great Britain will assuredly not be the first to set the world the
example of accepting it. Every man of us will feel his back set up if
we are asked that the Houses of Lords and Commons shall become the
Senate and House of Representatives, not of “Greater Britain,” which
might haply be promotion, but of a mere canton of Greater Britain,
a canton keeping for its Legislature powers somewhat larger, it may
be, than those of a Town Council or a Court of Quarter Sessions, but
powers as essentially local and secondary in their nature. This or
that American or Australian colony may be naturally glad to meet the
mother-country half-way; but will the mother-country be equally glad to
go and meet them? To rise to the political level of Bern and New York
in the existing world[7], of Megalopolis and Xanthos in a past world,
would be undoubted promotion for Victoria or New Zealand. It would
hardly be promotion for Great Britain, for England or Scotland, or for
Wales either, to sink to that political level.

Now some votaries of the federal scheme seem to see all this, which
its more enthusiastic partisans seem not to have thought of. Such
disputants do not argue for the perfect form of Federation, the
_Bundesstaat_, the constitution of Achaia as it was, of Switzerland and
America as they are. They would have us fall back on something more
like the mere _Staatenbund_, the type of imperfect Federation which the
Seven United Provinces never threw off, but which Switzerland, after
a long experience, and the United States after a short one, did throw
off in favour of those more perfect forms of Federation which they at
present possess. It does not perhaps quite settle the question to say
that this would be indeed a step backwards. It might be argued, at
least as a specimen of ingenuity in disputation, that such a lax kind
of union might possibly suit a confederation whose members lie at vast
distances from one another, though it has been proved not to suit
confederations whose members lie close together. And then one might
argue back again that the physical disunion needed of itself to be,
as far as might be, counterbalanced by the closest political union.
In a mere _Staatenbund_ all difficulties about the relations of the
British Parliament to the new Federal Parliament would be got rid of;
for there would be no need of any Federal Parliament. But either the
union would have to be so lax as to be really no confederation at all,
or else, even in this less perfect union, the British Parliament would
still have to give up some of its chiefest and most cherished powers.
Instead of a Federal Assembly, there would be a mere congress[8] or
conference of representatives from each member of the Union, a congress
meeting to discuss the foreign affairs of the Union, perhaps with power
to settle them, perhaps not. At present the foreign affairs of the
kingdom, and of the “empire” too, are settled by the advisers of the
Crown, subject to the indirect control of the British Parliament. And
in a perfect federation, a _Bundesstaat_, this indirect system might go
on, the indirect control being of course transferred from the British
Parliament to the Parliament of the whole “empire.” But in a mere
_Staatenbund_ it is hard to see how an indirect control can be brought
to bear upon anybody. If the Congress is to have authority to decide
in foreign affairs, it must consist of representatives of the several
members of the Union. Only then where would be the authority of the
Crown and the responsibility of the ministers of the Crown? And with
the authority of the Crown, the authority of Parliament, of all the
Parliaments, will have vanished also. The only way of giving them, or
leaving them, any authority, would be the helpless plan of making the
congress merely consultative. It might be a body which should simply
recommend measures, and leave them to be approved and carried out by
the Legislatures and Executives of the several States, or possibly of
some majority of them. This is in theory a possible form of union; but
it is not exactly the form most likely to lead to speedy and energetic
action, if a confederation scattered over every corner of the globe
should be called on to strike a sudden blow for its political being.

In short, if the _Bundesstaat_ is out of the question, the
_Staatenbund_ is yet more out of the question. The _Bundesstaat_ is a
form of constitution which has worked well in those cases where it has
suited the circumstances of the time and place in which it has been
introduced. Only it is not suited to the circumstances of Great Britain
and her colonies, and it is not likely to work well among them. But
it is not too much to say that the _Staatenbund_ has never yet really
worked well under any circumstances, and that it is certainly not
likely to work well for the first time when applied to circumstances
yet more unfavourable than any under which it has hitherto been tried.

       *       *       *       *       *

But these are not the only difficulties about Imperial Federation. To
whom is the federation to extend? To all the subjects of the Queen of
Great Britain and Ireland? Or only to such of them as are European by
dwelling-place or descent? Or, to come nearer to the point, we might
put the question thus; Is it to take in only the subjects of the Queen
of Great Britain and Ireland, or the subjects of the Empress of India
as well? This is a subject of some importance, about which it will be
well clearly to know our own meaning. As yet, the doctrine of Imperial
Federation is somewhat vague, and its objects are somewhat fluctuating.
Sometimes we are told that the Imperial Federation is to be an union of
all English-speaking people. The wiser advocates of the scheme see the
difficulties, but they seem for the nonce to put them in their pockets.
They do not talk either of a federation of all English-speaking people
or of a federation of all the Queen’s dominions. They mention those
parts of the Queen’s dominions, those parts of the English-speaking
people, to which they wish their scheme of federation to extend, and
they say nothing about any other parts of either. But this is not to
go to the root of the matter, and it is humdrum work compared with
the talk of the more enthusiastic votaries of “Imperial Federation.”
It is to be the “federation of the Empire,” that is presumably of the
whole “Empire;” and in some of the highest flights it would sometimes
seem as if the “federation of the Empire,” and the “federation of all
English-speaking people” were the same thing. Now about this last there
are some other difficulties, of which we may say somewhat presently;
at this stage the difficulty is that such a rule would not only shut
out a few speakers of European tongues nearer home, it would not only
shut out those uncivilized natives of colonial possessions who often
save us all trouble by dying out before us, but it would further shut
out the vast native population of India, a part of the subjects of the
common sovereign of Great Britain and India who must be thought of one
way or another. If we are to have a real federation of the Empire, the
whole people of the Empire must be let in with full federal rights, as
political equals of the Englishman of Britain and the Englishman of
Australia. But this would be something very different from a federation
of the English-speaking people. Such an enfranchisement as this would
indeed be a leap in the dark, a leap such as no people ever took
before. It is not for us to say what would be likely to come of it;
let us rather ask those who talk about Imperial Federation whether
they have thought what would be likely to come of it. Whenever the
thing is to talk big about “empire,” its greatness, its “prestige,”
all about the dominion on which the sun never sets, all about the
drum-roll of the British army going the round of the world, then India
is the dearest, the most cherished, the sublimest, part of the talk.
“Imperial” interests, “imperial” greatness, “imperial” everything, seem
specially at home in that land. It is the specially imperial soil.
“Our Eastern Empire,” “our Indian Empire,” is the grandest subject
of all for magnificent eloquence. And why? To speak the plain truth,
because here the corporate Emperor “We” comes in on the grandest scale.
“We” govern India; “we” hold the dominion of Aurungzebe; is not every
British elector part of a great corporate Aurungzebe? But receive
India to federation, and “we” cease to do all this. In a federation
of the “Empire,” “we” must simply sink into the position of citizens
of one or more of its states; the elector for London will be in no
way privileged above the elector for Masulipatam. It may even be that
the “we” shall be turned about, and that people at Masulipatam will
begin to say how “we” govern England. Instead of every British elector
being part of a corporate Aurungzebe, it may be that every Indian
elector shall be part of a corporate William. Imperial Federation may
take a shape in which England, Scotland, Canada, Australia, shall be
dependencies of the Empire of India. For truly it will need some very
artificial arrangement to secure even proportional representation for
any of those small and distant cantons, lying so far away from the main
centre of power and population. We must expect that in the Federal
Assembly, “we,” even strengthened by “our” reinforcements from other
English-speaking lands, will be defeated on every division by that vast
majority of the people of the Empire who are not English-speaking.
“Our” Imperial position will be, in truth, handed over to quite another
“we,” a “we” of whom the old British and Jingo “we” will form a very
small part indeed.

I shall of course be told that nothing of this kind is meant. And no
doubt nothing of this kind is meant by anybody. Only, if so, people
should not use words which mean either this or nothing. They should
tell us distinctly what they do mean. The words “Imperial Federation,”
“Federation of the Empire,” either mean nothing, or they mean that on
all “imperial” questions the speakers of English shall be liable to
be outvoted by the speakers of Tamul and Telugu. A federation which
does not give these last equal federal rights with their European
fellow-subjects is not a “Federation of the Empire,” but only of a
small part of the “Empire.” Such a federation would be, as regards
India, simply an enlargement of the dominant “we,” an admission of
more members to “we”-ship and its privileges. The people of India have
now for their masters the people of the United Kingdom only. They
would then have for their masters the people of the United Kingdom and
those of the British colonies also. Such an outcome might be highly
imperial, but it would not be at all federal, at least not federal
for the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Federal Empire. There
would be a grand stroke indeed on behalf of “imperium,” but very little
indeed would be done on behalf of “libertas.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In truth, in this particular argument, India, so present to every
mind in every other argument, India, the choicest flower of the
Empire, the brightest jewel in the Imperial Crown--any other figure
of speech that may spring of the oriental richness of an imperial
fancy--seems suddenly to be forgotten. But another land seems also
to be forgotten, a land which should surely be more to us than all
the wonders of the East, a land whose kindred and friendship should
surely be more precious to Englishmen than all the glories and all
the treasures of a hundred thousand Great Moguls. If it would be a
strange Federation of the Empire which should shut out the greater
part of the inhabitants of the Empire, it would be a yet stranger
Federation of the English-speaking people which should shut out the
greater part of the English-speaking people. It is wonderful to see
how the declaimers about “Greater Britain” and “Imperial Federation”
seem ever and anon perplexed by the fact that there is on the western
shore of Ocean, perhaps not a greater Britain, but assuredly a newer
England. I believe that no one proposes that the Federation of the
English-speaking people shall take in the United States of America;
if any one does so propose, I honour him as being at once bolder and
more logical than his brethren. But unless such a federation does take
in the United States of America, it will assuredly be a very lame and
imperfect federation. It is the most curious illustration of the modern
theory of colonization, the substitution of mere personal allegiance
for nationality in the higher sense, that any mind could take in for
a moment the thought of a federation of the English-speaking people
of which the United States should not form a part. In the ideas of
too many on both sides of Ocean, the fact that the people of the
United States are not subjects of the sovereign of the elder England
hinders them from being looked at as Englishmen at all. The English
of the United States have indeed something to get over. The memories
of the War of Independence, the more grievous memories of the war of
1813, have made a sad gap between the two great branches of the same
folk between whom, if only modern Europe had colonized on the wise
principles of older times, there need never have been any gap at all.
That our independent colonies--I use the name as a name of the highest
honour--will ever join with us in a political federation is a thing
hardly to be thought of. I have often dreamed that something like the
Greek συμπολιτεία, a power in the citizens of each country of taking up
the citizenship of the other at pleasure, might not be beyond hope; but
I have never ventured even to dream of more than that. It is our bad
luck at present that there are only two independent English nations,
two English nations which parted in anger, and neither of which has
quite got over the unpleasant circumstances of the parting. As long as
there are only two such English nations, there is almost sure to be
somewhat of jealousy, somewhat of rivalry, between the two. And there
will always be on both sides people who take a strange pleasure in
stirring up ill-feeling among kinsfolk. Surely, if there were three or
four or five independent English nations, there would no longer be the
same direct rivalry between any two of those nations; there would be
far more chance of keeping up friendly feeling, more chance of keeping
up, if not the impossible federation, yet something like an abiding
political alliance, between all the members of the scattered English
folk. The sentiment is possibly unpatriotic, but I cannot help looking
on such a lasting friendly union of the English and English-speaking
folk as an immeasurably higher object than the maintenance of any
so-called British empire. I may judge wrongly; but it strikes me that
the establishment of a rival federation, an “imperial” federation, is
not the best way to keep up such a friendly union. A single federation,
especially a federation which would be an immediate neighbour, would
be likely to call out more active jealousies in the United States than
are at present called out by the single kingdom and its dependencies.
Towards several independent English nations, whatever might be the
political constitution of each, feelings of this kind would be likely
to be far less strong. We are told that, if we will not have Imperial
Federation, we must have either “disintegration” or the continued
“subjection” of the still dependent colonies. It is a question which as
yet one cannot do more than whisper; but would “disintegration” be too
dearly bought, if it carried with it the perfect independence of the
United States of Australia, and a greater chance than we now have of
keeping the lasting good will of the United States of America?


[2] There are one or two other rather curious uses of the word
“imperial” with regard to weights and measures, which it cannot be
supposed had any reference to India or the colonies.

[3] See an article by Mr. Forster in the Nineteenth Century for
February, 1885, from which I have made some extracts.

[4] This is historically true of the Achaian cities, of the Swiss
cantons (in 1848), and of the original American States. All these
really did cede certain powers and keep others. Of the American
States admitted since the acceptance of the Federal Constitution by
all the original States, it is not historically true, but it is true
by a legal fiction. Massachusetts really ceded certain powers to the
Union. Missouri never did, as a historical fact; but it did so by a
legal fiction when it was admitted to the same rights and the same
obligations as Massachusetts.

[5] The second union of Greek cities under the headship of Athens comes
nearest to such a change; but it is not a real precedent. The cities
which formed the second Athenian alliance had once been subjects of
Athens; but, when the second alliance was formed, they were subjects of
Athens no longer; they entered the union as independent states. And the
union was not really a federation, but only a close alliance. Moreover,
before very long, Athens was at war with her own allies.

[6] When I wrote this a year ago, I did not foresee that the question
of Home Rule would become an immediately practical one before the
question of Imperial Federation.

[7] I am speaking here of political position, not of political power,
still less of extent of territory or population. Bern is small, New
York is great; but the political position of the two is the same; each
is the greatest member of an equal confederation. And that political
position is higher than that of any British colony, even though the
Legislature of the colony may actually have, as in some cases it has,
greater powers than the Legislature of the American State or Swiss
canton. For the greater powers of the colony are mere grants from a
higher authority; they are bestowed by royal charter or by Act of
Parliament. But the smaller powers of the American State or Swiss
canton are the inherent powers of an independent state. They are those
powers which an independent state kept to itself and did not cede to
the federal authority.

[8] The use of the word _Congress_ for the Federal Assembly of the
United States is a curious instance of the survival of a word when
the thing expressed by it has wholly changed its nature. Up to 1789
the United States had a body which had naturally borrowed the name
of _Congress_ from the diplomatic gatherings with which it had much
in common. In 1789 this mere Congress gave way to a real Federal
Parliament. But the Federal Parliament kept the name of the imperfect
institution which it supplanted.


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Transcriber's note:

Footnotes have been moved to the ends of the Lectures referencing them.

Table of Contents added by Transcriber.

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Reading devices that cannot display some of the characters in this
eBook may substitute question marks or other placeholders.

Text uses “mother-land” and “motherland”; both retained.

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ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.