Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

with a clause virtually abolishing the Privy Council in so far as it affected Australia. Here a compromise was effected, but though the Imperial Government secured some remnant of authority for the Privy Council in the external relations of the Commonwealth, Australia secured absolute constitutional independence within her own borders.

But it is even more important to note that in the construction of their Constitution the Australians have in many respects taken the American rather than the British Constitution as a model. While in Canada the Dominion Government retains all powers which are not delegated to the provinces, in Australia the opposite principle prevails—the States retain all powers which are not conferred on the central Government. That is the governing principle of the American Constitution. Again, the Australian Senate is the American body transferred to the Pacific. The federal Court is also borrowed from the United States. When the Canadian confederation was framed the Canadians wished to call it a 'Kingdom,' and it was Lord Derby whose respect for American susceptibilities led him to call it • Dominion.' But Australia never even suggested Kingdom.' • Commonwealth' was the name she desired, and · Common+ wealth' it is.

In every detail, then, Australia, even more than Canada, has been allowed to develope on her own lines. She has an American constitution which only requires a President to make it a republic, and she has acquired virtual independence of any control that we can exercise except through our fleet.

And yet what has been the result ?

Since the passing of the Commonwealth Act Australia has given to us the clearest possible marks of her loyalty. She has helped us ungrudgingly in a war of our own making. She has shown an almost touching confidence in our diplomacy and statesmanship. In this case, at any rate, a great colony has shown us that the more we trust her the more she will help us—the larger the freedom we give her the less she will desire separation. Could there be a greater contrast between the results of our complete abstention from interference in Australia and our perpetual intermeddling in every possible manner with the affairs of South Africa ?

We have now passed in review the story of confederation as far as it has gone in the British Empire. We might add an account of various interesting attempts to federate the West Indian Islands, of which the chief result at present is

VOL. CXCVI. NO. CCCCII.

K K

the federation of the Leeward Islands under the Act of 1861. The Windward Islands are, it is true, under one Governor, but as each island has its own council they can scarcely be regarded as federated. In the case of these colonies, however, federation is mainly a question of expense, and scarcely involves the very interesting constitutional questions which have arisen in the self-governing colonies.

The history of the process of the federation within those colonies forms a striking reply to the doctrine of force as a bond of Empire. There is no case in the history of our Empire in which force has succeeded in drawing the colonies nearer together. Those who attempted such a thing would find on their hands an impossible task. Like ourselves, our colonists will only consent to a form of government which they have chosen for themselves.

These considerations may seem trite, but they are not unnecessary at the present moment. Every wise man now hopes that it may be possible to extend the federal system to the government of South Africa. It is eminently adapted to that country. The attempt to govern two colonies like Natal and the Transvaal by means of one government would as surely end in failure as did the attempt to govern Quebec and Ontario entirely from one centre. We are gradually learning in politics that incompatibility of temper is as bad a basis for a common government as for a marriage. It is quite as impossible to suppose that Cape Colony and the Orange River Colony can unite in one government as that they could profitably remain entirely separate. In all these cases we want some solution which is neither entire separation nor complete absorption; and ever since the days of Greece that has been found in federation. Until that is achieved in South Africa there can be no final solution of its problems; and until South Africa is federated into one self-governing whole it is quite certain that we should talk in vain about the federation of the Empire. For if that is ever to come about it must be a federation of already federated groups.

But it is clear from our review of federation in the other colonies that federation in South Africa must come voluntarily and from within if it is to come at all. It must be born from the free spirit of free States. It must be the union of true souls, the marriage of true minds. As long as even the shadow of despotic government or martial law rests upon South Africa we may put aside even the dream of federation. For the history of Australia and that of Canada alike demonstrate the fact that federation of free men must be federation by mutual consent. No South African Federal Government could work smoothly if any of the parties to it were forced into the union. Such a government could not avoid wreckage if the statesmen who had to work it could blame Downing Street for any failure or hitch in the machine. It could not even be started unless both Dutch and English were allowed an absolutely free voice in the settlement of the details. We must wait till the fruit is ripe before we can gather it.

But until South African federation is accomplished, and the Australian federation has survived the crises of infancy, it would be vain to discuss the larger question. If the Empire is ever to be federated under either a Council or a representative Parliament, that step will probably be brought about by a new 'shrinkage of the world' such as will make Australia as near to Great Britain as Europe is now.

• What was before us we know not,

And we know not what shall succeed.' The present linkage of so many distant colonies has been rendered possible only by that developement of railways and telegraphs which was the specific work of the nineteenth century. British Columbia could not be linked to the Maritime Provinces without the Pacific Railway. New South Wales could not throw in her lot with Queensland without steamships to link together the ports of that great continent. It is thus mechanical invention which has done the chief work in the past, and it may do it again in the future. Men like Signor Marconi may be true federators, and the politicians must wait upon their achievements. We cannot tell what further victories over time and space may await us. We have not yet even exhausted the possibilities of our present achievements. Australia bas yet to fall in with the Imperial penny post. We have yet to see what changes may be produced by the new Pacific cable, or the new lines of steamships between Canada and South Africa that are at present being projected. We must let these things grow. We must allow time to draw our colonies closer together, and watch the slow workings of natural forces until they give us the proper chance for human intervention. We must be ready to take time by the forelock, but not hurry to snatch her by the back hair.

But as to our colonies, they are at present for the most part still in the age of infancy. They have not finished growing, and growth requires freedom. No wise parent will check the free play of a child's limbs by tight or heavy clothing, No wise statesman would check the free developement of our colonies with iron laws and regulations. They need population above all things, and Europeans chiefly migrate to reach a freer air. They go to escape the bondage of ancient traditions, the grip of the dead hand, or the rod of the military martinet. The emigrants of Europe are for the most part tired of aristocracies and monarchies, and they go forth to escape from them. If Canada and Australia adopt these things, and cramp their young limbs in all the cast-off clothing of the Old World, they may become mimics of ourselves, very flattering to our vanity, but they will never have a life of their own. The United States have grown because they have kept free of Europe, and it is a significant fact that even the average British emigrant still prefers the States to our own colonies as a settling ground. Man does not live by constitutions, but by freedom.

The last word, then, is, Give the Empire air. Let it grow. Interfere with it as little as possible, and then, if its component States ever come into a closer union, they will come as proud equals, grown in wisdom and stature, and not as subordinates hoping for some profit from the union.

Our first task is to put aside the two vices of Empirethe pride of power and the desire for profit. It was these vices that lost us our first Empire, and will, if they grow, surely imperil our second. It was only when Lord Grey and his fellows deliberately set aside the idea that our colonies should be used as a source of profit, that the modern spirit of free and mutual loyalty between ourselves and our colonies arose. Let us not go back to the old days of greedy haggling, when colonies' meant estates, and were only valued as sources of trade revenue. There is a fatal risk in relying on the maxim “Trade follows the flag. For what if we discover that it does not? Are we to turn our back on the flag ? It is too dangerous a throw of the dice. The great moral discovery of the nineteenth century within the British Colonial Empire was that the tie of sentiment grew as the tie of law weakened. That is as much a fixed point now in the field of politics as the power of electricity in the field of applied mechanics. It is part of our capital. We go back on it at our peril. Our best courage lies in trusting to it absolutely and without any shadow on our confidence. For thus only shall we become, like the comrades of Ulysses

• One equal temper of heroic hearts
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.'

ART. VIII.The English Novel : Being a Short Sketch of its

History from the Earliest_Times to the Appearance of 'Waverley.' By WALTER RALEIGH, Fifth impression.

London: Murray, 1901. IT T is tolerably certain that criticism will find in prose

fiction, if not the greatest, at least the most characteristic achievement of European literature during the nineteenth century. We should be the last to underrate those great outbursts of poetry which attended, and were in part inspired by, the first and second French Revolutions ; and doubtless in England Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and Byron are names fully the peers of Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, Miss Austen, and Miss Brontë. But there have been other poetic periods not less notable than the age of Wordsworth in England, of Hugo in France. There has never before been a period in which the imagination of mankind gave itself over so completely to shaping imaginative thought in prose as that which began with the publication of Waverley.' For although the title of this paper refers to the nineteenth century, we are really concerned with that literary developement to the opening of which Mr. Raleigh brings readers in his brilliant little monograph ; wisely stopping short where the subject grew beyond the compass of any reasonable volume. After the appearance of Waverley,' for a few years yet the constellation of poetic genius shone with growing lustre ; but soon three of its great lamps—Keats, Shelley, and Byron-plunged suddenly into darkness. Wordsworth began to pale an ineffectual fire, Coleridge to gutter out; while Scott, with a genius that had at last found full scope, went on from strength to strength, uniting in masterpiece after masterpiece the two elements that had hitherto been kept apart in work of the prose imagination—the element of comedy, satiric or good-humoured, and the element of romance.

It may, perhaps, help readers to realise the extraordinary change in estate which the novel has undergone since the early days of last century, if we revive some specimens of the critical opinions expressed in this Review. No one will wish to assert that the · Edinburgh Review' has been consistently inspired in its judgements; but probably no one will care to deny that it has represented more than adequately the normal standard of well-informed criticism. In the first twelve years of its existence, or in the first

« ForrigeFortsett »