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her colonies—burdensome to both sides—was strongly urged by political and philosophical writers, and obtained a strong footing among some men who from the inside of the Colonial Office saw the want of smoothness with which the wheels of our colonial system then worked.
Would not these troubles all be removed if the ties which united us were completely severed, and Great Britain were to find in her heretofore colonies separate independent and friendly nations ? Thus in 1865 Lord Blachford and Sir Henry Taylor, both of them men of great experience in the working of our system, were in general agreement in their • desire to shake off all responsibly governed colonies,' including the whole of North America !
At the present day views such as these have for practical purposes ceased to exist, and have been replaced by a universal sentiment throughout the whole Empire in favour of closer union. It is not difficult to understand the reasons for this change. The enormous extension given to the system of independent colonial management of colonial affairs has of course greatly lessened to the Home Government the burden, the responsibility, and the worry of administration. The increased facilities of travel and communication have brought British subjects all over the world into much closer personal relations, and recent events have shown, beyond all possibility of dispute, that a common patriotic sentiment burns with equal ardour in every part of the British Empire. The strong feeling for the unity of the Empire was the chief feature of the Jubilee rejoicings of 1897; and for many years previously it had been evident that popular sentiment had begun to run strongly in that direction. It was Sir Charles Dilke who first gave currency to the expression Greater Britain,' and asked his countrymen at home to remember that the whole AngloSaxon race, and those who had become associated and united with it, possessed in common almost all the elements of nationhood. Professor Seeley's remarkable book on the • Expansion of England' certainly expanded the views of many Englishmen; and Mr. Forster in 1885 gave a practical character to the movement of opinion and sentiment by founding the Imperial Federation League. It was the fundamental principle of the League that any scheme of • Imperial Federation should combine on an equitable basis " the resources of the Empire for the maintenance of common ' interests, and adequately provide for an adequate defence of common rights,
It was a great step forward in the cause of Imperial Union when Mr. Chamberlain accepted the seals of the Colonial Office. Political opponents have mockingly asked whether Mr. Chamberlain discovered the colonies ? Assuredly no statesman before him has done so much to draw together into a common sentiment of patriotism all parts of the Empire : and it is this common sentiment, far more than any scheme of Imperial Union, which will enable us to act as one great people, whatever may be our political organisation. It is interesting to watch the course of developement of popular and individual habit of thought. The onward march of democracy at home and in colonies has never been checked. This march our political prophets and philosophers foresaw; but it did not occur to them that it would be the function of the undemocratic part of the Constitution—the Crown-to hold together as a single people the British democracy of the future. As we democratised the House of Commons, we did something to localise and even to provincialise its character, as compared at least with the non-representative parts of the Constitution, especially with the Crown. The colonies may well feel that the House of Commons belongs to its own electors, that they the colonists have no part in it; and certainly the delegate 'theory' so pleasing to democracy as contrasted with Burke's higher conception of the duty of a representative supports their view. But in the eyes of all her subjects in every part of the globe her Majesty is as much Queen of Canadian, Australian, and New Zealander, as of the Londoner himself, and by the same title. Even the House of Lords is felt to be less completely divested of the character of an Imperial institution than is the House of Commons, and as time goes on eminent colonists will doubtless be found, in greater numbers than at present, among the Peers.
There can be no doubt then of the growth of the sentiment of Imperial Union at home and in the colonies, especially in recent years. Nevertheless there has been no advance made towards any practical scheme for combining together our loosely connected Empire into one great Federal nation, under the government for Imperial purposes of the same central authority. The Imperial Federation League did good work. Conferences were held, and British and colonial feeling was stirred. But, for all that, the greatest difficulty was experienced in the making of definite proposals. At length, after eight years well spent in ventilating the whole subject, the League in 1893 presented to Mr. Gladstone's Government certain recommendations made by their Committee to the effect that it was desirable to issue
“An invitation to our self-governing colonies to take a share in the cost of the general defence of the Empire, commencing with the maintenance of the navy, and that if this combination were achieved, the formation of a Council of the Empire to deal with defence and foreign policy would become possible, and that such a Council would in course of time attract to itself other functions.' Shortly afterwards the League dissolved, and the Imperial Federation (Defence) Committee was formed for the purpose of carrying out the above policy of Federation, in the first place for common defence alone; in the full hope that this first step would be followed by a much closer unification of the Empire. In 1895 the Defence Committee urged its views upon the new Government, which doubtless listened far more sympathetically than the Ministry of Mr. Gladstone to proposals for consolidating and increasing the military and naval strength of the Empire. Assuredly the Defence Committee could not possibly hope to find a minister more ready to further their views than the new Colonial Secretary; and accordingly a move was very soon made in the direction desired by the Committee. In Cape Colony in the Jubilee year (1897) the subject was taken up with much zeal, especially by Mr. Schreiner and Mr. Rose Innes, the Colonial Parliament passing a resolution to contribute annually towards the expense of the Imperial navy. Then came the famous present of an ironclad,' as Sir Gordon Sprigg's offer was enthusiastically described at the time by Mr. Goschen, and a little later the offer of Natal to coal the British fleet annually at Durban, free of cost, to the extent of 12,000 tons. The Australian colonies have long borne some portion of the cost of naval defence; and the Defence Committee are now able to urge that contribution towards the Imperial navy by the self-governing colonies has already become an accepted principle.
One good result at least has been brought about by the unhappy war in South Africa—fraught as it is with so much suffering in the present, and entailing on the future a heavy burden of troubles—in the pulling together of every section of the British people in one common sentiment of patriotism. We have had no Grand Council, no other Supreme
See 'A Summary of the Situation, published by the Imperial Federation (Defence) Committee, 1900.
Authority for the Empire than her Majesty's home advisers. As regards our military power no steps whatever had been taken such as we have seen in respect of the navy to establish an Imperial force. Nevertheless our colonies, acting each for itself, have sent us the most material military assistance, and have greatly contributed to our success, and the Defence Committee are quite entitled to hold, according to their programme, that the time has come for them to take a second step in advance. In March last accordingly they passed the following resolution, viz. :
"That the principle of colonial contributions to the navy having been to a great extent established, and in view of the spontaneous co-operation of the colonial forces with those of the United Kingdom in the field, the Imperial League (Defence) Committee should now direct its efforts towards the developement of the principle of co-operation and the promotion of means by which the self-governing colonies may be represented in the councils of the Empire.' For a closer Imperial union the times would seem to be propitious, and the popular mind is favourable, but as yet no real advance has been made, and no practical scheme has been even suggested by responsible statesmen towards carrying out the end desired. Towards joint naval and joint military preparation and action a good deal has been done, and there can be no doubt that much further advance will be made in that direction. But as to establishing a 'Supreme Imperial Council'-as to the ‘Federation of the Empire '-it must be frankly owned that no progress has been made at all.
How very different is the spectacle that meets our eyes when we turn them from Imperial to Colonial Federation ! There, in North America, and in Australia, we see that States have combined, or are combining, into Federations, which again may not improbably some day consolidate into some more centralised national systems. The explanation is that the problems to be solved are entirely dissimilar; and misunderstanding and even mischief will arise if we do not distinguish the essential fundamental differences between the two cases. Nevertheless there is a hazy notion prevailing at the present day that the remarkable attempt, now successfully accomplished, to bind together in a single
Commonwealth' the various colonies of Australia is not only a long step forwards towards some closer connexion than now exists between Mother Country and colonies, but even that this measure affords an example on a small scale of that Imperial Federation which it is believed will ultimately unite under one great Federal Government
the component parts of our large but loosely connected Empire.
A very little consideration will show that the desire to federate, and the reasons for federating, which have produced and are producing such excellent results in North America and Australia, either do not exist at all, or exist in a very minor degree, for uniting under a single government and legislature the whole of her Majesty's dominions. Doubtless there are many and strong reasons for bringing into common council, upon questions of general policy affecting the Empire as a whole, our sister nations beyond the seas, who with ourselves own and boast allegiance to the same throne and flag. There is at home and in the colonies a desire for closer political union within the Empire, but the more closely the subject is examined the more clearly it will be perceived that, if this closer union is to meet the practical necessities of the case, it must be of an utterly different character from that system of federated States under which our North American and Australian kinsmen are growing into nationhood.
Let us look a little closely into the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act,' as the Bill agreed upon by the Australian colonies, which has now received the approval of Parliament, is to be called. The speeches of Australian statesmen who have for years past promoted this policy, and indeed every line of the bill itself, show that its authors have been inspired by the thought of founding a nation. Australia has grown up; has attained her majority, and is prepared henceforth to be responsible, as other nations are, for her own fate. The very name chosen—“The Commonwealth of Australia'-indicates a certain modification of the old conception of the colonial relation towards the parent country. The Canadians founded out of the various British colonies of North America a Canadian Dominion. Now we have an Australian Commonwealth. Almost imperceptibly our forms of speech and our metaphors become modified to suit modern conditions, and our Colonial Secretary rightly feels, when he refers to the Empire, that it is time to substitute for the old phrase 'Mother Country and her Colonies' the more accurate expression of Sister Nations'-nations, that is, owing a hearty and voluntary devotion to a common throne and equal allegiance to a common flag, while in all other respects they enjoy the privileges and bear the burdens of independent States.
It is more than nine years ago since Sir Henry Parkes