THE COLONIES OF BRITAIN.
Clutha Leader, Rōrahi XXVI, Putanga 1315, 14 Hōngongoi 1899, Page 7
THE COLONIES OF BRITAIN.
[By J, W. Thomson, M.H.R.] Continued, There are one two questions we may ask ourselves. One of these is — Has it l>fip>n a good thing for Britain to build up a colonial empire. 1 ? In the early days of the colonies it was, as I have s«iid, a recognised thing that a colony should tracle only with the State to which it belonged. If B r itnin, therefore, had stood aloof and allowed the other European States to occupy all the newly'discovered lands she would certainly not have attained her present 'position as the foremost country of Europe. By forming; colonies Britain opened up new fields of enterprise to her people, of which they were, not slow to take advantage. The result is the growth of communities which resemble more, or less i ho Mother Country herself. The nearei Ihe climate of a colony approaches to the climate of the mother country the closer is the resemblance. Thss" new countries were certain to be occupied, and there can Vie no doubt they have been a greater success in our hands than they would have be^n in the hands of any othpr S'rit.p. At least there is this to b^ said, that, in the wo;k of -;o'onisa tion B^ain has been the most successful. Take France for examp'e. The French settlements in Canada were started before the adjacent British settlements, but nt the time, these French settlements were ceded to Britain the population was only about 100,000. Thf population, however, of the adj'cnt B-ifish setHenv-nts had th<n«i'own to about 2,000,000. The French prefer to live in communities w v ere they can enjoy social intercourse. T' is said th^t in Lower Canada even now the s-tt'ers who :>re of French descent live chiefly in villages, and are content", to farm only small areas of land. Our own people, however, and t! c Germans push their way into the b-.ck settlements. In ord>-r to improve their circumstances they are willling to endure many discomforts. These and othpr things go lo show that Britain has Veen justified in building up hf-r colonial empire Then there is the question as to whether Britain shou'd siill retain her colonies. Hansons may be advanced for and against this course, but, without discussing the merits of these reasons, I may say that a good many yeais ago this question us^d to lie raised at Honip. It does not seem, however, to be raised at all now. From this we may ''onclude that public opinion is now al'o^ether in favour of Britain retaining her colonirs. On j good reason for ibis is, that by keeping united wo are all the better able to defend ourselves, in accordance, with the oM pajniig (hat union is strength ; nnd another reason is that any action in the direction of breaking up the emp : re would be certain to endanger the peace of the wrrld Closely related to this ques'ion is the. question of whether it would, be better for the colonies themselves to continue parts of the empire or- to become independent The empire has a history and a literature, and can point to many noble deeds that it has done. The people of a colony have an interest in all these things, arid this sho'.iM have a beneficial ir.fhenco, especially upon the yotn^. Every colony also that remains part of the empire has this advantage, that the Mother Country i«, in case of need, bound to defend it with its last shilling and its last man. It h probable also if one colony after ano her were to hivrt off and become independent, reputes wou'd arse among; them which might lead to war. By keeping united to the Mother Country disputfs and misunderstandings are not ao likely to arise. The colonies have also a better position th?n they would have if each wa^ simply a little independent state. There is this also, that- as time advancps any des : rability there might be of hwing-off becomes 1-ss and Ipss, for every day the many countries that go to form the British Empire are, owing to steam and telegraphic communication, getting as it were nearer and nearer to each other. We, in thpse the most distant parts of the empire, do .not frel that we are so far away from the Mother Country and from each other as we used to do — say 20 years ago. And whaf, it may be here asked, would the Mother Country do in the event of any colony wishing to hive-off 1 ? Would she take steps to prevent this 1 Ido not think she would. She might expostulate, V>ut that would be all. Fortunately there is no desire to separate. If there was any such desire, it might be expected in a colony consisting largely -of an a^e-n race. A considerable proportion of the people of lower Canada, now called Quebec, are of French descent, but still they are
Io)al to Britain — just as loyal as our own people. This was well brought out at the Q'leen's Jubilee two years ; ago. The Premier of Canada was a lower Canadian and of French descent, but s* ill he attended the. Jubilee, ami was just as loyal as any of the. other premiers. A<* regards the uses to which »h»-y are put theie are four kind.* of colonies. 1 here are first of all the agricul' urnl colonies, and these are by far the in-^t importim*". These colonies are connr tries that have a climate .suitable for Europeans — large tracts of. fertile land, i and a comparatively small number of native inhabitants. These countries | have, as it, were, been standing op.-n for ages almost crying out for a farming community to come and occupy theni. The working farmer can go to these colonies and engage in the* farming operations he has been accustomed to at- Home. The colonies I refer to particularly are the Dominion of Canada and tln i se Australasian colonies. There are also colonies which are situated in tropical parts of the globe. In these, colonies the sugar-cano and other tropical plants can be grown. Europeans, however, cannot go to these places with the view of wojking the fields with their own hands. They are, however, able to find natives or others willing to work for them for wages. Jamaica is a type of this class of colony. We have also colonies which contain a large native and more or less civilised population. The people are engaged in all kinds of occupations. There is no inducement, however, for Europeans to go to these places to engage in any kind of manual work. We have, from a variety of circumstances, obtained control over these place*, and we remain there chiefly for the well-being of the native inhabitants. Of this class of colony the most conspicuous type is India. We there see a number of ntive races governed by a people who are outsiders, and who on the whole give general satisfaction. No'hing shows better England's sense of justice and fair play than the way she. governs India. There, are many o'her places that are called colonies but vvh : c'n are still not colonies in the real s^n^e of the word. Thej are places which Brita'n has acquired from time to time, and which she retains because th°V are. useful for various purposes. They are usually islands or harbours or promontories. Some are useful as ports of call for. her ships when going to distant parts of the world, and some are useful as places from which a military or naval force nny operate in the event "of war breaking out. J refer to such p'aees as Gibraltar, Malts, Cyprus, Aden, the Straits S'-tt'emen*-, Hongkong, S-. Helena, Ascension, ami others. As regards government there aiv ihree kinds of colonies. There are first ihe se'f governing colonies Of these, there are ten — viz., the Dom inion of Canada. Newfoundland, New South Wales, Victoria, Sou'h Australia, Que< nslm.nd, Western Aus'ialia, Tasmania, our own colony, and the Cape of Good Hope. The mother country dce=s not look on any of these colonies as dependencies. She looks on them as occupying the same position as herspif — viz., pnrts of a very large whole. They can do, so far at least as their internal afTur* are concerned, exactly what they please. There are a few colonies that have a limited amount of representative? government. These are usually colonies that, have a large native population as compared wish the. European population or population of Euiopean descent. It is felt in 'here circumstancps that it would not be deirable to entrust either race with full power. When however it has apppared tha a certain amount of representative government could with safety be given them it has been given. There are eight colonies that stand in this position — viz.. the Bahamas, Bar badors, British Guinna, Leeward Islands, Windward Islands, Bermuda, Natal and Malta. Then there are the Crown colonies. These are colonies that are governed by a Governor appointed by the Home autho'ritiee. On him rests the responsibility of ad minis tration He is», however in most colonies assisted by a Legislative Council. There is only one *hing in which the colonies may be said to be at a disadvantage as compared wi.h the mother country. Maiters come ro relating to the Empire as a whole, or to particular pirts of iK In these coses (lie Mother Country alone has to df cide on'what is best, to be done. There is no way by which the views of the colonies may be ascertained. Various proposals have from time to time been made to meet this case, but not one of them has been of a satisfactory character, Som« look forward to the federation of ihe. Empire as a means of remedying this defect The idea is that a special assembly should be created at which all the States forming the Empire should be represent ed for the consideration pf matters of federal concern. It may be that in time there will be something in the nature of Imperial Federation, but it is doubtful whether the functions of a Federal Assembly would be batter discharged than they are at present by the Home Parliament and the 'Home Ministers' There are some, also who look forward to a federation of the English speaking races, and this also may come. This, at all events is true; that there never was a time when the
two great branches of the Englishspeaking community — viz., Great Britain and the United Spates, were on V>etter terms. And there are soni- w lir look forward to something 'more com prehensive than either of these — : z.. universal bro h< thood, that happy stun • £ society which Robert Burns "bought possible when he wrote : It's comin' yei for a' that, That man lo man, the vra'rld o'er, May brithe^a be for a' that. One word in conclusion. W« have been hearing a great deal lately about the White Man's Burden, and no doubt we, the English-speaking people, h«vin«.' had many advantages have correspond ing obligations. Within the British Empire, we. luive all sorts and conditions of people,, and no doubt one of burdens laid on us is" to civilise and Christianise them. We may not have the opportunities that borne others have but at all events let us endeavour to be good colonists and good and exemp'ary men and women.