Imatges de pÓgina
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pensable capacities of the British Crown. A British Empire that had no visible head but a Prime Minister, or even the President of a Republic, would not last for twenty-five years.

OTHER MODERN EMPIRES

Great Britain, however, is by no means alone in her career of Empire. She started earlier upon the quest, impelled thereto by the roving spirit of her sons, by her aptitude both for the sea and for trade, and in the last century by her early command of the resources of coal and steam. But the example has found faithful followers, and expansion seems to be the law of the modern vigorous and progressive State. How futile it is to decry empire, or to protest that virtue is only found or is more readily found in small communities, when we observe that other nations, alike the most autocratic and the most republican, are following a similar bent. If Russian expansion is capable of being regarded as Cæsarism, and of being identified with the Imperialism of material rather than moral force, what is to be said of the Empire-making phase upon which America, the most democratic and hitherto the least imperial of all great countries, has entered ? I believe that even at this moment if you were to poll the whole of the United States, you would find a large and possibly an overwhelming majority opposed to any concrete policy of imperial expansion. But circumstances have proved too strong for the Americans. The same impulse that carried them early in the last century to the Rockies and the Pacific, now that the continent has filled up, is driving them further afield. It has compelled them to lay hands upon the Samoan and Sandwich groups in the open Pacific, to assume charge of Porto Rico as they will ultimately have to assume charge of Cuba, to clutch at the Isthmus of Panama, and in the case of the Philippines to stretch out their hands even to the shores of Asia. Political parties may denounce, and the more thoughtful Americans may deplore, the expansion. But I doubt if any President, Democratic or Republican, will come to Congress with a message proposing to revoke it. If then, even in the case of a nation where there is so little of the instinct of militarism or aggrandisement as America, the country is found heading straight towards an imperial destin y, is not the conclusion inevitable that she is merely obeying a general law, and that Providence, once pronounced to be on the side of the big battalions, is now found to be on the side of the big nations ? In Europe the same lesson is taught by Germany, which has repudiated Bismarck's warnings against over-seas adventure ; by Italy, which has barely achieved national consolidation before she starts forth upon external expansion ; and by France, the growth of whose Colonial Empire is only second to that of our own. Japan has been swept into the same vortex and cannot resist the inexorable compulsion. If the doom of small nations has not sounded, at least the day of great nations seems to have dawned.

PECULIAR CHARACTER OF BRITISH EMPIRE

Amid these modern Empires the British Empire stands distinguished not merely by its earlier start and its superior extent but also by its unique composition. It is not a mere grouping of territorial acquisitions achieved by the valour or good fortune of the race. It is not a cluster of subordinate units grouped in deferential pose round an imperial centre. It is neither a military Empire, as was that of Rome, nor a federal Empire, as is that of modern Germany. We may distinguish four factors in it which in a peculiar but not inharmonious relation to each other constitute the whole. I know of no image more apposite than the astronomical phenomenon of the planet Saturn with its concentric rings.

Still as, while Saturn whirls, his steadfast shade

Sleeps on his luminous ring.

In the centre is the core and heart of the Empire in these islands, whence flows the central light and flame. In the language of politics we furnish the supreme government, we exercise a general control over the policy, and we undertake the naval and military defence. Around the centre of the system revolve two rings of scarcely inferior brightness, each composed of a multitude of satellites, great and small, spinning in an ordered maze of light and sound. One consists of the self-governing Colonies, peopled by our own kin, equal and independent nations, not merely in the making but in fact; the other or secondary ring consists of the Crown Colonies and remaining imperial possessions and protectorates. And then, just as among the encircling belts of the planet Saturn is seen a mysterious film of darker hue, which is known to astronomers as the Crape or Dusky ring, so around the pivot of our imperial system revolves the darker rim of India, a whirlwind of scintillating stars, drawn into the same orbit and obedient to the same law. The simile is no fantastic one: for it is intended to show to you that each part in the imperial system is co-ordinated to the other, and that centre and outskirts move in deference to the same mysterious rule. You cannot in the Empire any more than in the constellation separate the one from the other, or argue that the centre is more important than the circumference. I remember reading a few years ago a remark made by the present Prime Minister that the object of his party was the strengthening of the centre of the Empire, instead of wasting our force upon its outskirts. The first part of the sentence was sound enough. But there was a world of fallacy, and as I think of danger, in the second. It showed in a flash the difference between the Imperial and the anti-Imperial standpoint. To the Imperialist the outskirts of Empire-India, Canada, New Zealand, Natal-are not less important than London, Liverpool, or Birmingham. We ought not to think more of them, but we ought not to think less. If the Colonies had taken a similar line we should have had no Colonial contingents in South Africa. If they should henceforward begin to think mainly or exclusively of themselves as the inhabitants of these islands were invited in this passage to do, you would very soon have no Colonies to think about at all. If there were no outskirts there would be no Empire. As America has gone so might Canada, Australia, and South Africa go. There are plenty of influences at work to tempt or encourage the severance. A sheaf of popular arguments could easily be found for casting off the Indian burden. Other countries, more wide awake than ourselves, would speedily relieve us of the remaining excrescences, and, the outskirts thus conveniently disposed of, we might devote ourselves with ardour to the task of strengthening the centre, which by that time would be a centre of nothing, because its circumference would have ceased to exist.

ENGLAND WITHOUT THE EMPIRE

I invite you to pause for a moment at this point and to think of what the position of this country would be if such consequences were to ensue. I should like to bring it home to the English working man, who is every whit as much concerned as the proconsul or the statesman. When he is told that the Empire is a corrupt, or immoral, or useless thing, let him picture to himself how he would fare without it. Let us suppose then that our great Colonies have left us, whether, to use the well-known simile of the French statesman, they have dropped like ripe pears off the branch, or have been estranged by some act of contumely or policy of indifference. Let us assume that India has cast off our yoke, and is either a prey to intestine warfare, or, as is more probable, is being cut to pieces by rival Powers. When India has gone and the great Colonies have gone, do you suppose that we can stop there? Your ports and coaling stations, your fortresses and dockyards, your Crown Colonies and protectorates will go too. For either they will be unnecessary as the toll-gates and barbicans of an empire that has vanished, or they will be taken by an enemy more powerful than yourselves. Then with a navy reduced, for there would be nothing but these shores for it to defend, and with a small army confined to home service, what would be the fate of our home population ? England, from having been the arbiter, would sink at the best into the inglorious playground, of the world. Our antiquities, our natural beauties, our relics of a once mighty sovereignty, our castles and cathedrals, our mansion houses and parks, would attract a crowd of wandering pilgrims. People would come to see us just as they climb the Acropolis at Athens or ascend the waters of the Nile. A congested population, ministering to our reduced wants, and unsustained by the enormous demand from India and the Colonies, would lead a sordid existence, with no natural outlet for its overflow, with no markets for its manufactures beyond such as were wholly or partially barred to it by hostile tariffs, with no aspiration but a narrow and selfish materialism, and, above all, with no training for its manhood. Our emigrants, instead of proceeding to lands where they could still remain British citizens and live and work under the British flag, would be swallowed up in the whirlpool of American cosmopolitanism, or would be converted into foreigners and aliens. England would become a sort of glorified Belgium. As for the priceless asset of the national character, without a world to conquer or a duty to perform, it would rot of atrophy and inanition. To use Wordsworth's splendid simile-' the flood of British freedom would perish in bogs and sands, and to evil and to good be lost for ever.'

I am not contending for a moment that such is the picture which even the most partisan or perverted imagination deliberately sets before itself. But assuredly it is the logical consequence of the policy which many preach. Great Empires before now have sunk to small States. It may be that in the fulness of time the turn of England will come too. But at least let it not be done of her own act, and in the plenitude of her powers. Whatever our politics, let us not voluntarily allow our locks to be shorn. In Empire we have found not merely the key to glory and wealth, but the call to duty, and the means of service to mankind. Let us no more forswear Empire than we would abjure our own souls.

THE SPIRIT OF EMPIRE

Such being the manner in which Empire has been won and is now held, in what spirit should it be administered or regarded ? The answer to that question will give us the true Imperialism. If you have an Empire you must have Imperialism, Imperialism being the essence or spirit of Empire. An Empire cannot be maintained without Imperialism any more than a workshop can be run without a knowledge of mechanics, or a picture gallery without a sense of art. Even the Roman Empire, starting as it did with the passion for conquest, before long developed an idea, which was the diffusion of law and order through the entire civilised world, surrounded by but defended from the barbarian ring. That was the Imperialism of Ancient Rome. The Roman Empire of the Middle Ages, anachronistic and anomalous as in many respects it was, retained its existence because there was connected with it a survival of the same idea, the idea of order amid anarchy, of universal authority and a universal law. Charlemagne and Napoleon, Alexander and Akbar, each had his Imperial idea. What then should be ours ?

CARICATURES OF IMPERIALISM

First let me repudiate the many caricatures which are put forward with such suspicious alacrity by those who are enemies to Imperialism because they are enemies to Empire itself. There are many of these grinning masks set up to frighten or deceive, and it is a peculiar feature of the majority of them, indicating their spurious manufacture, that their authors cannot describe them by the ordinary resources of the English language. Sometimes we are told that Imperialism is Militarism, which I see defined in the dictionaries as an excess of the military spirit. I confess that to accuse us in this country of militarism, when it is with the utmost difficulty that we obtain recruits for our exceedingly limited army, when the soldier's uniform, instead of being regarded as it ought to be, as a source of pride, seems generally to be treated as if it were something to be ashamed of and hidden away, when we are so absurdly backward in military organisation that every fresh War Minister seeks to distinguish himself by inventing a new military system (which commonly passes into oblivion along with its author), and so deficient in military knowledge that we go to war without maps of the country which we are called upon to invade or defend, when it is notorious among foreign nations that a British Government almost has to be kicked and cuffed before it will consent to fight, and when, having gone to war, we only come through, if we do, after a series of deplorable fiascoes and blunders at the start, I say that to accuse such a people of being easily tempted into a policy of military adventure or braggadocio is almost a joke. If on the other hand militarism were held to imply that upon every nation is imposed the obligation of self-defence, and that national independence does rest in the last resort upon the possession of adequate force, then I wish that we were rather more militarist than we are ; for I hold compulsory training to be of the essence of citizenship, and I think that our Empire will very likely some day break down unless it be applied. There is no call to draw the sword from the scabbard or to brandish it in the air. It is a common saying that we hold India by the sword, and in the last resort every dominion must rest upon the sanction of force. But when I went there as Viceroy, I registered a vow that I at least would never use the phrase, for it seemed to me that we hold India far more by moral force than by bayonets; and in seven years I was never unfaithful to my pledge. The Army is strong in India, stronger than in any other part of the Empire. But even there, unless you are foolish enough to impair the supremacy of the civil authority, militarism cannot prevail.

A variation of the same charge is the allegation that Imperialism means Jingoism, which I take to be a swaggering and aggressive attitude; or Chauvinism, an image for which we have to cross the Channel, and which I fancy means the sort of exaggerated national

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