The root of the matter was that the old colonial system, which had suited well enough the needs of the colonies as they were when it was devised by the statesmen of Charles II.'s reign, was no longer suitable to their condition now that they had become great and prosperous communities of freemen. They enjoyed self-government on a scale more generous than any other communities in the world outside of Britain; indeed, in one sense they enjoyed it on a more generous scale than Britain herself, since political rights were much more widely exercised in the colonies, owing to the natural conditions of a new and prosperous land, than they were to be, or could be, in Britain until nearly a century later. No direct taxation had as yet been imposed upon them without their own consent. They made the laws by which their own lives were regulated. They were called upon to pay no tribute to the home government, except the very indirect levy on goods passing through England to or from their ports, and this was nearly balanced by the advantages which they enjoyed in the British market, and far more than balanced by the protection afforded to them by the British fleet. They were not even required to raise troops for the defence of their own frontiers except of their own free will, and the main burden of defending even their landward frontier was borne by the mother-country. But being British they had the instinct of self-government in their blood and bones, and they found that the control of their own affairs was qualified or limited in two principal ways.
In the first place, the executive and judicial officers who carried out the laws were not appointed by them but by the Crown in England: the colonies were not responsible for the administration of their own laws. In the second place, the regulations by which their foreign trade was governed were determined, not by themselves, but by the British parliament: they were not responsible for the control of their own traffic with the outside world. It is true that the salaries of the executive officials and the judges depended upon their grant, and that any governor who acted in the teeth of colonial opinion would find his position quite untenable, so that the colonists exercised a real if indirect control over administration. It is true also that they accepted the general principles of the commercial system, and had reaped great benefits from it.
But it is the unfailing instinct of the citizens in a self-governing community to be dissatisfied unless they feel that they have a full and equal share in the control of their own destinies. Denied responsibility, they are apt to become irresponsible; and when all allowance has been made for the stupidities of governors and for the mistakes of the home authorities, it must be recognised that the thirteen American colonial legislatures often behaved in a very irresponsible way, and were extremely difficult to handle. They refused to vote fixed salaries to their judges in order to make their power felt, simply because the judges were appointed by the Crown, although in doing so they were dangerously undermining judicial independence. They refused in many cases to supply anything like adequate contingents for the war against the French and their Indian allies, partly because each legislature was afraid of being more generous than the others, partly because they could trust to the home government to make good their deficiencies. Yet at the same time they did nothing to check, but rather encouraged, the wholesale smuggling by which the trade regulations were reduced to a nullity, though these regulations were not only accepted in principle by themselves, but afforded the only compensation to the mother-country for the cost of colonial defence. It is as unscientific to blame the colonists and their legislatures for this kind of action, as it is to blame the British statesmen for their proposals. It was the almost inevitable result of the conditions among a free, prosperous, and extremely self-confident people; it was, indeed, the proof that in this young people the greatest political ideal of western civilisation, the ideal of self-government, had taken firm root. The denial of responsibility was producing irresponsibility; and even if the Stamp Act and the Tea Duties had never been proposed, this state of things was bound to lead to increasing friction. Nor must it be forgotten that this friction was accentuated by the contrast between the democratic conditions of colonial life, and the aristocratic organisation of English society.
It ought to have been obvious, long before Grenville initiated his new policy in 1764, that the colonial system was not working well; and the one circumstance which had prevented serious conflict was the danger which threatened the colonists in the aggressive attitude of the French to the north and west. Since the individual colonies refused to raise adequate forces for their own defence, or to co-operate with one another in a common scheme, they were dependent for their security upon the mother-country. But as soon as the danger was removed, as it was in 1763, this reason for restraint vanished; and although the great majority of the colonists were quite sincerely desirous of retaining their membership of the British commonwealth, the conditions would inevitably have produced a state of intensifying friction, unless the whole colonial system had been drastically reconstructed.
Reconstruction was therefore inevitable in 1764. The Whig policy of simply ignoring the issue and 'not reading the dispatches' could no longer be pursued; it was indeed largely responsible for the mischief. George III. and Grenville deserve the credit of seeing this. But their scheme of reconstruction not unnaturally amounted to little more than a tightening-up of the old system. The trade laws were to be more strictly enforced. The governors and the judges were to be made more independent of the assemblies by being given fixed salaries. The colonists were to bear a larger share of the cost of defence, which fell so unfairly on the mother-country. If the necessary funds could be raised by means approved by the colonists themselves, well and good; but if not, then they must be raised by the authority of the imperial parliament. For the existing system manifestly could not continue indefinitely, and it was better to have the issue clearly raised, even at the risk of conflict, than to go on merely drifting.
When the colonists (without suggesting any alternative proposals) contented themselves with repudiating the right of parliament to tax them, and proceeded to outrageous insults to the king's authority, and the most open defiance of the trade regulations, indignation grew in Britain. It seemed, to the average Englishman, that the colonists proposed to leave every public burden, even the cost of judges' salaries, on the shoulders of the mother-country, already loaded with a debt which had been largely incurred in defence of the colonies; but to disregard every obligation imposed upon themselves. A system whereunder the colony has all rights and no enforcible duties, the mother-country all duties and no enforcible rights, obviously could not work. That was the system which, in the view of the gentlemen of England, the colonists were bent upon establishing; and, taking this view, they cannot be blamed for refusing to accept such a conclusion. There was no one, either in Britain or in America, capable of grasping the essentials of the problem, which were that, once established, self-government inevitably strives after its own fulfilment; that these British settlers, in whom the British tradition of self-government had been strengthened by the freedom of a new land, would never be content until they enjoyed a full share in the control of their own affairs; and that although they seemed, even to themselves, to be fighting about legal minutiae, about the difference between internal and external duties, about the legality of writs of assistance, and so forth, the real issue was the deeper one of the fulfilment of self-government. Could fully responsible self-government be reconciled with imperial unity? Could any means be devised whereby the units in a fellowship of free states might retain full control over their own affairs, and at the same time effectively combine for common purposes? That was and is the ultimate problem of British imperial organisation, as it was and is the ultimate problem of international relations. But the problem, though it now presented itself in a comparatively simple form, was never fairly faced on either side of the Atlantic. For the mother and her daughters too quickly reached the point of arguing about their legal rights against one another, and when friends begin to argue about their legal rights, the breach of their friendship is at hand. So the dreary argument, which lasted for eleven years (1764-75), led to the still more dreary war, which lasted for seven years (1775-82); and the only family of free self-governing communities existing in the world was broken up in bitterness. This was indeed a tragedy. For if the great partnership of freedom could have been reorganised on conditions that would have enabled it to hold together, the cause of liberty in the world would have been made infinitely more secure.
The Revolution gave to the Americans the glory of establishing the first fully democratic system of government on a national scale that had yet existed in the world, and of demonstrating that by the machinery of self-government a number of distinct and jealous communities could be united for common purposes. The new American Commonwealth became an inspiration for eager Liberals in the old world as well as in the new, and its successful establishment formed the strongest of arguments for the democratic idea in all lands. Unhappily the pride of this great achievement helped to persuade the Americans that they were different from the rest of the world, and unaffected by its fortunes. They were apt to think of themselves as the inventors and monopolists of political liberty. Cut off by a vast stretch of ocean from the Old World, and having lost that contact with its affairs which the relation with Britain had hitherto maintained, they followed but dimly, and without much comprehension, the obscure and complex struggles wherein the spirit of liberty was working out a new Europe, in the face of difficulties vastly greater than any with which the Americans had ever had to contend. They had been alienated from Britain, the one great free state of Europe, and had been persuaded by their reading of their own experience that she was a tyrant-power; and they thus found it hard to recognise her for what, with all her faults, she genuinely was—the mother of free institutions in the modern world, the founder and shaper of their own prized liberties. All these things combined to persuade the great new republic that she not only might, but ought to, stand aloof from the political problems of the rest of the world, and take no interest in its concerns. This attitude, the natural product of the conditions, was to last for more than a century, and was to weaken greatly the cause of liberty in the world.
Although the most obvious features of the half-century following the great British triumph of 1763 were the revolt of the American colonies and the apparently universal collapse of the imperialist ambitions of the European nations, a more deeply impressive feature of the period was that, in spite of the tragedy and humiliation of the great disruption, the imperial impetus continued to work potently in Britain, alone among the European nations; and to such effect that at the end of the period she found herself in control of a new empire more extensive than that which she had lost, and far more various in its character. Having failed to solve one great imperial problem, she promptly addressed herself to a whole series of others even more difficult, and for these she was to find more hopeful solutions.
When the American revolt began, the Canadian colonies to the north were in an insecure and unorganised state. On the coast, in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, there was a small British population; but the riverine colony of Canada proper, with its centre at Quebec, was still purely French, and was ruled by martial law. Accustomed to a despotic system, and not yet reconciled to the British supremacy, the French settlers were obviously unready for self-government. But the Quebec Act of 1774, by securing the maintenance of the Roman Catholic religion and of French civil law, ensured the loyalty of the French; and this Act is also noteworthy as the first formal expression of willingness to admit or even welcome the existence, within the hospitable limits of the Empire, of a variety of types of civilisation. In the new British Empire there was to be no uniformity of Kultur.
The close of the American struggle, however, brought a new problem. Many thousands of exiles from the revolting colonies, willing to sacrifice everything in order to retain their British citizenship, poured over the borders into the Canadian lands. They settled for the first time the rich province of Ontario, greatly increased the population of Nova Scotia, and started the settlement of New Brunswick. To these exiles Britain felt that she owed much, and, despite her own financial distress, expended large sums in providing them with the means to make a good beginning in their new homes. But it was impossible to deny these British settlers, and the emigrants from Britain who soon began to join them, the rights of self-government, to which they were accustomed. Their advent, however, in a hitherto French province, raised the very difficult problem of racial relationship. They might have been used as a means for Anglicising the earlier French settlers and for forcing them into a British mould; it may fairly be said that most European governments would have used them in this way, and many of the settlers would willingly have fallen in with such a programme. But that would have been out of accord with the genius of the British system, which believes in freedom and variety. Accordingly, by the Act of 1791, the purely French region of Quebec or Lower Canada was separated from the British region of Ontario or Upper Canada, and both districts, as well as the coastal settlements, were endowed with self-governing institutions of the familiar pattern—an elected assembly controlling legislation and taxation, a nominated governor and council directing the executive. Thus within eighteen years of their conquest the French colonists were introduced to self-government. And within nine years of the loss of the American colonies, a new group of self-governing American colonies had been organised. They were sufficiently content with the system to resist with vigour and success an American invasion in 1812. While the American controversy was proceeding, one of the greatest of British navigators, Captain Cook, was busy with his remarkable explorations. He was the first to survey the archipelagoes of the Pacific; more important, he was the real discoverer of Australia and New Zealand; for though the Dutch explorers had found these lands more than a century earlier, they had never troubled to complete their explorations. Thus a vast new field, eminently suitable for European settlement, was placed at the disposal of Britain. It was utilised with extraordinary promptitude. The loss of the American colonies had deprived Britain of her chief dumping-ground for convicts. In 1788, six years after the recognition of their independence, she decided to use the new continent for this purpose, and the penal settlement of Botany Bay began (under unfavourable auspices) the colonisation of Australia.
But the most important, and the most amazing, achievement of Britain in this period was the establishment and extension of her empire in India, and the planting within it of the first great gift of Western civilisation, the sovereignty of a just and impartial law. This was a novel and a very difficult task, such as no European people had yet undertaken; and it is not surprising that there should have been a period of bewildered misgovernment before it was achieved. That it should have been achieved at all is one of the greatest miracles of European imperialism.
By 1763 the East India Company had established a controlling influence over the Nawabs of two important regions, Bengal and the Carnatic, and had shown, in a series of struggles, that its control was not to be shaken off. But the company had not annexed any territory, or assumed any responsibility for the government of these rich provinces. Its agents in the East, who were too far from London to be effectively controlled, enjoyed power without responsibility. They were privileged traders, upon whom the native governments dared not impose restrictions, and (as any body of average men would have done under similar circumstances) they gravely abused their position to build up huge fortunes for themselves. During the fifteen years following the battle of Plassey (1757) there is no denying that the political power of the British in India was a mere curse to the native population, and led to the complete disorganisation of the already decrepit native system of government in the provinces affected. It was vain for the directors at home to scold their servants. There were only two ways out of the difficulty. One was that the company should abandon India, which was not to be expected. The other was that, possessing power, of which it was now impossible to strip themselves, they should assume the responsibility for its exercise, and create for their subjects a just and efficient system of government. But the company would not see this. They had never desired political power, but had drifted into the possession of it in spite of themselves. They honestly disliked the idea of establishing by force an alien domination over subject peoples, and this feeling was yet more strongly held by the most influential political circles in England. The company desired nothing but trade. Their business was that of traders, and they wanted only to be left free to mind their business. So the evils arising from power without responsibility continued, and half-hearted attempts to amend them in 1765 and in 1769 only made the conditions worse. The events of the years from 1757 to 1772 showed that when the superior organisation of the West came in contact with the East, mere trading exploitation led to even worse results than a forcibly imposed dominion; and the only solution lay in the wise adaptation of western methods of government to eastern conditions.
Thus Britain found herself faced with an imperial problem of apparently insuperable difficulty, which reached its most acute stage just at the time when the American trouble was at its height. The British parliament and government intervened, and in 1773 for the first time assumed some responsibility for the affairs of the East India Company. But they did not understand the Indian problem—how, indeed, should they?—and their first solution was a failure. By a happy fortune, however, the East India Company had conferred the governorship of Bengal (1772) upon the greatest Englishman of the eighteenth century, Warren Hastings. Hastings pensioned off the Nawab, took over direct responsibility for the government of Bengal, and organised a system of justice which, though far from perfect, established for the first time the Reign of Law in an Indian realm. His firm and straightforward dealings with the other Indian powers still further strengthened the position of the company; and when in the midst of the American war, at a moment when no aid could be expected from Britain, a combination of the most formidable Indian powers, backed by a French fleet, threatened the downfall of the company's authority, Hastings' resourceful and inspiring leadership was equal to every emergency. He not only brought the company with heightened prestige out of the war, but throughout its course no hostile army was ever allowed to cross the frontiers of Bengal. In the midst of the unceasing and desolating wars of India, the territories under direct British rule formed an island of secure peace and of justice. That was Hastings' supreme contribution: it was the foundation upon which arose the fabric of the Indian Empire. Hastings was not a great conqueror or annexer of territory; the only important acquisition made during his regime was effected, in defiance of his protests, by the hostile majority which for a time overrode him in his own council, and which condemned him for ambition. His work was to make the British rule mean security and justice in place of tyranny; and it was because it had come to mean this that it grew, after his time, with extraordinary rapidity.
It was not by the desire of the directors or the home government that it grew. They did everything in their power to check its growth, for they shrank from any increase to their responsibilities. They even prohibited by law all annexations, or the making of alliances with Indian powers. But fate was too strong for them. Even a governor like Lord Cornwallis, a convinced supporter of the policy of non-expansion and non-intervention, found himself forced into war, and compelled to annex territories; because non-intervention was interpreted by the Indian powers as a confession of weakness and an invitation to attack. Non-intervention also gave openings to the French, who, since the outbreak of the Revolution, had revived their old Indian ambitions; and while Bonaparte was engaged in the conquest of Egypt as a half-way house to India (1797), French agents were busy building up a new combination of Indian powers against the company.
 India Act of 1784
This formidable coalition was about to come to a head when, in 1798, there landed in India a second man of genius, sent by fate at the critical moment. In five years, by an amazing series of swiftly successful wars and brilliantly conceived treaties, the Marquess Wellesley broke the power of every member of the hostile coalitions, except two of the Mahratta princes. The area of British territory was quadrupled; the most important of the Indian princes became vassals of the company; and the Great Mogul of Delhi himself, powerless now, but always a symbol of the over-lordship of India, passed under British protection. When Wellesley left India in 1805, the East India Company was already the paramount power in India south-east of the Sutlej and the Indus. The Mahratta princes, indeed, still retained a restricted independence, and for an interval the home authorities declined to permit any interference with them, even though they were manifestly giving protection to bands of armed raiders who terrorised and devastated territories which were under British protection. But the time came when the Mahrattas themselves broke the peace. Then their power also was broken; and in 1818 Britain stood forth as the sovereign ruler of India.
This was only sixty years after the battle of Plassey had established British influence, though not British rule, in a single province of India; only a little over thirty years after Warren Hastings returned to England, leaving behind him an empire still almost limited to that single province. There is nothing in history that can be compared with the swiftness of this achievement, which is all the more remarkable when we remember that almost every step in the advance was taken with extreme unwillingness. But the most impressive thing about this astounding fabric of power, which extended over an area equal to half of Europe and inhabited by perhaps one-sixth of the human race, was not the swiftness with which it was created, but the results which flowed from it. It had begun in corruption and oppression, but it had grown because it had come to stand for justice, order, and peace. In 1818 it could already be claimed for the British rule in India that it had brought to the numerous and conflicting races, religions, and castes of that vast and ancient land, three boons of the highest value: political unity such as they had never known before; security from the hitherto unceasing ravages of internal turbulence and war; and, above all, the supreme gift which the West had to offer to the East, the substitution of an unvarying Reign of Law for the capricious wills of innumerable and shifting despots. This is an achievement unexampled in history, and it alone justified the imposition of the rule of the West over the East, which had at first seemed to produce nothing but evil. It took place during the age of Revolution, when the external empires of Europe were on all sides falling into ruin; and it passed at the time almost unregarded, because it was overshadowed by the drama of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
The construction of the Indian Empire would of itself suffice to make an age memorable, but it does not end the catalogue of the achievements of British imperialism in this tremendous period. As a result of the participation of Holland in the war on the side of France, the Dutch colony at the Cape of Good Hope was occupied by Britain. It was first occupied in 1798, restored for a brief period in 1801, reoccupied in 1806, and finally retained under the treaty settlement of 1815. The Cape was, in fact, the most important acquisition secured to Britain by that treaty; and it is worth noting that while the other great powers who had joined in the final overthrow of Napoleon helped themselves without hesitation to immense and valuable territories, Britain, which had alone maintained the struggle from beginning to end without flagging, actually paid the sum of 2,000,000 pounds to Holland as a compensation for this thinly peopled settlement. She retained it mainly because of its value as a calling-station on the way to India. But it imposed upon her an imperial problem of a very difficult kind. As in Canada, she had to deal here with an alien race of European origin and proud traditions; but this racial problem was accentuated by the further problem of dealing with a preponderant and growing negro population. How were justice, peace, liberty, and equality of rights to be established in such a field?
It was, then, an astonishing new empire which had grown up round Britain during the period when the world was becoming convinced that colonial empires were not worth acquiring, because they could not last. It was an empire of continents or sub-continents—Canada, Australia, India, South Africa—not to speak of innumerable scattered islands and trading-posts dotted over all the seas of the world, which had either survived from an earlier period, or been acquired in order that they might serve as naval bases. It was spread round the whole globe; it included almost every variety of soil, products, and climate; it was inhabited by peoples of the most varying types; it presented an infinite variety of political and racial problems. In 1825 this empire was the only extra-European empire of importance still controlled by any of the historic imperial powers of Western Europe. And at the opening of the nineteenth century, when extra-European empires seemed to have gone out of fashion, the greatest of all imperial questions was the question whether the political capacity of the British peoples, having failed to solve the comparatively simple problem of finding a mode of organisation which could hold together communities so closely akin as those of America and the parent islands, would be capable of achieving any land of effective organisation for this new astounding fabric, while at the same time securing to all its members that liberty and variety of development which in the case of America had only been fully secured at the cost of disruption.
EUROPE AND THE NON-EUROPEAN WORLD 1815-1878
When the European peoples settled down, in 1815, after the long wars of the French Revolution, they found themselves faced by many problems, but there were few Europeans who would have included among these problems the extension of Western civilisation over the as yet unsubjugated portions of the world. Men's hearts were set upon the organisation of permanent peace: that seemed the greatest of all questions, and, for a time, it appeared to have obtained a satisfactory solution with the organisation of the great League of Peace of 1815. But the peace was to be short-lived, because it was threatened by the emergence of a number of other problems of great complexity. First among these stood the problem of nationality: the increasingly clamorous demand of divided or subject peoples for unity and freedom. Alongside of this arose the sister-problem of liberalism: the demand raised from all sides, among peoples who had never known political liberty, for the institutions of self-government which had been proved practicable by the British peoples, and turned into the object of a fervent belief by the preachings of the French. These two causes were to plunge Europe into many wars, and to vex and divide the peoples of every European country, throughout the period 1815-78. And to add to the complexity, there was growing in intensity during all these years the problem of Industrialism—the transformation of the very bases of life in all civilised communities, and the consequent development of wholly new, and terribly difficult, social issues. Preoccupied with all these questions, the statesmen and the peoples of most European states had no attention to spare for the non-European world. They neglected it all the more readily because the events of the preceding period seemed to demonstrate that colonial empires were not worth the cost and labour necessary for their attainment, since they seemed doomed to fall asunder as soon as they began to be valuable.
Yet the period 1815-78 was to see an extension of European civilisation in the non-European world more remarkable than that of any previous age. The main part in this extension was played by Britain, who found herself left free, without serious rivalry in any part of the globe, to expand and develop the extraordinary empire which she possessed in 1815, and to deal with the bewildering problems which it presented. So marked was the British predominance in colonial activity during this age that it has been called the age of British monopoly, and so far as trans-oceanic activities were concerned, this phrase very nearly represents the truth. But there were other developments of the period almost as remarkable as the growth and reorganisation of the British Empire; and it will be convenient to survey these in the first instance before turning to the British achievement.
The place of honour, as always in any great story of European civilisation, belongs to France. Undeterred by the loss of her earlier empire, and unexhausted by the strain of the great ordeal through which she had just passed, France began in these years the creation of her second colonial empire, which was to be in many ways more splendid than the first. Within fifteen years of the fall of Napoleon, the French flag was flying in Algiers.
The northern coast of Africa, from the Gulf of Syrtis to the Atlantic, which has been in modern times divided into the three districts of Tunis, Algeria, and Morocco, forms essentially a single region, whose character is determined by the numerous chains of the Atlas Mountains. This region, shut off from the rest of Africa not only by the Atlas but by the most impassable of all geographical barriers, the great Sahara desert, really belongs to Europe rather than to the continent of which it forms a part. Its fertile valleys were once the homes of brilliant civilisations: they were the seat of the Carthaginian Empire, and at a later date they constituted one of the richest and most civilised provinces of the Roman Empire. Their civilisation was wrecked by that barbarous German tribe, the Vandals, in the fifth century. It received only a partial and temporary revival after the Mahomedan conquest at the end of the seventh century, and since that date this once happy region has gradually lapsed into barbarism. During the modern age it was chiefly known as the home of ruthless and destructive pirates, whose chief headquarters were at Algiers, and who owned a merely nominal allegiance to the Sultan of Turkey. Ever since the time of Khair-ed-din Barbarossa, in the early sixteenth century, the powers of Europe have striven in vain to keep the Barbary corsairs in check. Charles V., Philip II., Louis XIV. attacked them with only temporary success: they continued to terrorise the trade of the Mediterranean, to seize trading-ships, to pillage the shores of Spain and Italy, and to carry off thousands of Christians into a cruel slavery; Robinson Crusoe, it may be recalled, was one of their victims. The powers at Vienna endeavoured to concert action against them in 1815. They were attacked by a British fleet in 1816, and by a combined British and French fleet in 1819. But all such temporary measures were insufficient. The only cure for the ill was that the headquarters of the pirate chiefs should be conquered, and brought under civilised government.
This task France was rather reluctantly drawn into undertaking, as the result of a series of insults offered by the pirates to the French flag between 1827 and 1830. At first the aim of the conquerors was merely to occupy and administer the few ports which formed the chief centres of piracy. But experience showed that this was futile, since it involved endless wars with the unruly clansmen of the interior. Gradually, therefore, the whole of Algeria was systematically conquered and organised. The process took nearly twenty years, and was not completed until 1848. In all the records of European imperialism there has been no conquest more completely justified both by the events which led up to it and by the results which have followed from it. Peace and Law reign throughout a country which had for centuries been given over to anarchy. The wild tribesmen are unlearning the habits of disorder, and being taught to accept the conditions of a civilised life. The great natural resources of the country are being developed as never since the days of Roman rule. No praise can be too high for the work of the French administrators who have achieved these results. And it is worth noting that, alone among the provinces conquered by the European peoples, Algeria has been actually incorporated in the mother-country; it is part of the French Republic, and its elected representatives sit in the French Parliament.
In the nature of things the conquest of Algeria could not stand alone. Algeria is separated by merely artificial lines from Tunis on the east and Morocco on the west, where the old conditions of anarchy still survived; and the establishment of order and peace in the middle area of this single natural region was difficult, so long as the areas on either side remained in disorder and war. In 1844 France found it necessary to make war upon Morocco because of the support which it had afforded to a rebellious Algerian chief, and this episode illustrated the close connection of the two regions. But the troops were withdrawn as soon as the immediate purpose was served. France had not yet begun to think of extending her dominion over the areas to the east and west of Algeria. That was to be the work of the next period.
Further south in Africa, France retained, as a relic of her older empire, a few posts on the coast of West Africa, notably Senegal. From these her intrepid explorers and traders began to extend their influence, and the dream of a great French empire in Northern Africa began to attract French minds. But the realisation of this dream also belongs to the next period. In the Far East, too, this was a period of beginnings. Ever since 1787—before the Revolution—the French had possessed a foothold on the coast of Annam, from which French missionaries carried on their labours among the peoples of Indo-China. Maltreatment of these missionaries led to a war with Annam in 1858, and in 1862 the extreme south of the Annamese Empire—the province of Cochin-China—was ceded to France. Lastly, the French obtained a foothold in the Pacific, by the annexation of Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands in 1842, and of New Caledonia in 1855. But in 1878 the French dominions in the non-European world were, apart from Algeria, of slight importance. They were quite insignificant in comparison with the far-spreading realms of her ancient rival, Britain.
On a much greater scale than the expansion of France was the expansion of the already vast Russian Empire during this period. The history of Russia in the nineteenth century is made up of a series of alternations between a regime of comparative liberalism, when the interest of government and people was chiefly turned towards the west, and a regime of reaction, when the government endeavoured to pursue what was called a 'national' or purely Russian policy, and to exclude all Western influences. During these long intervals of reaction, attention was turned eastward; and it was in the reactionary periods, mainly, that the Russian power was rapidly extended in three directions—over the Caucasus, over Central Asia, and in the Far East.
Before this advance, the huge Russian Empire had been (everywhere except on the west, in the region of Poland) marked off by very clearly defined barriers. The Caucasus presented a formidable obstacle between Russia and the Turkish and Persian Empires; the deserts of Central Asia separated her from the Moslem peoples of Khiva, Bokhara and Turkestan; the huge range of the Altai Mountains and the desert of Gobi cut off her thinly peopled province of Eastern Siberia from the Chinese Empire; while in the remote East her shores verged upon ice-bound and inhospitable seas. Hers was thus an extraordinarily isolated and self-contained empire, except on the side of Europe; and even on the side of Europe she was more inaccessible than any other state, being all but land-locked, and divided from Central Europe by a belt of forests and marshes.
The part she had played in the Napoleonic Wars, and in the events which followed them, had brought her more fully into contact with Europe than she had ever been before. The acquisition of Poland and Finland, which she obtained by the treaties of 1815, had increased this contact, for both of these states were much influenced by Western ideas. Russia had promised that their distinct national existence, and their national institutions, should be preserved; and this seemed to suggest that the Russian Empire might develop into a partnership of nations of varying types, not altogether unlike the form into which the British Empire was developing. But this conception had no attraction for the Russian mind, or at any rate for the Russian government; and the reactionary or pure-Russian school, which strove to exclude all alien influences, was inevitably hostile to it. Hence the period of reaction, and of eastward conquest, saw also the denial of the promises made in 1815. Poland preserved her distinct national organisation, in any full degree, only for fifteen years; even in the faintest degree, it was preserved for less than fifty years. Finland was allowed a longer grace, but only, perhaps, because she was isolated and had but a small population: her turn for 'Russification' was to come in due course. The exclusion of Western influence, the segregation of Russia from the rest of the world, and the repudiation of liberty and of varieties of type thus form the main features of the reactionary periods which filled the greater part of this age; and the activity of Russia in eastward expansion was in part intended to forward this policy, by diverting the attention of the Russian people from the west towards the east, and by substituting the pride of dominion for the desire for liberty. Hence imperialism came to be identified, for the Russian people, with the denial of liberty.
But it is a very striking fact that each of the three main lines of territorial advance followed by Russia in Asia during this period led her to overstep the natural barriers which had made her an isolated and self-dependent empire, brought her into relation with other civilisations, and compelled her to play her part as one of the factors in world-politics.
Russia had begun the conquest of the wild Caucasus region as early as 1802; after a long series of wars, she completed it by the acquisition of the region of Kars in 1878. The mastery of the Caucasus brought her into immediate relation with the Armenian province of the Turkish Empire, which she henceforward threatened from the east as well as from the west. It brought her into contact also with the Persian Empire, over whose policy, from 1835 onwards, she wielded a growing influence, to the perturbation of Britain. And besides bringing her into far closer relations with the two greatest Mahomedan powers, it gave her a considerable number of Mahomedan subjects, since some of the Caucasus tribes belonged to that faith.
Again, the conquest of Central Asia led her to overstep the barrier of the Kirghiz deserts. The wandering Kirghiz and Turkoman tribes of this barren region lived largely upon the pillage of caravans, and upon raids into neighbouring countries; they disposed of their spoil (which often included Russian captives) mainly in the bazars of Bokhara, Khiva, Samarkand and Khokand—Mahomedan Khanates which occupied the more fertile areas in the southern and south-eastern part of the desert region. The attempt to control the Turkoman raiders brought Russia into conflict with these outposts of Islam. Almost the whole of this region was conquered in a long series of campaigns between 1848 and 1876. These conquests (which covered an area 1200 miles from east to west and 600 miles from north to south) made Russia a great Mahomedan power. They also brought her into direct contact with Afghanistan. Russian agents were at work in Afghanistan from 1838 onwards. The shadow of her vast power, looming over Persia and the Persian Gulf on the one hand, and over the mountain frontiers of India on the other, naturally appeared highly menacing to Britain. It was the direct cause of the advance of the British power from the Indus over North-Western India, until it could rest upon the natural frontier of the mountains—an advance which took place mainly during the years 1839-49. And it formed the chief source of the undying suspicion of Russia which was the dominant note of British foreign policy throughout the period.
Another feature of these conquests was that, taken in conjunction with the French conquest of Algeria and the British conquest of India, they constituted the first serious impact of European civilisation upon the vast realm of Islam. Until now the regions of the Middle East which had been subjugated by the followers of Mahomed had repelled every attack of the West. More definite in its creed, and more exacting in its demands upon the allegiance of its adherents, than any other religion, Mahomedanism had for more than a thousand years been able to resist with extraordinary success the influence of other civilisations; and it had been, from the time of the Crusades onwards, the most formidable opponent of the civilisation of the West. Under the rule of the Turk the Mahomedan world had become stagnant and sterile, and it had shut out not merely the direct control of the West (which would have been legitimate enough), but the influence of Western ideas. All the innumerable schemes of reform which were based upon the retention of the old regime in the Turkish Empire have hopelessly broken down; and the only chance for an awakening in these lands of ancient civilisation seemed to depend upon the breakdown of the old system under the impact of Western imperialism or insurgent nationalism. It has only been during the nineteenth century, as a result of Russian, French, and British imperialism, that the resisting power of Islam has begun to give way to the influence of Europe.
The third line of Russian advance was on the Pacific coast, where in the years 1858 and 1860 Russia obtained from China the Amur province, with the valuable harbour of Vladivostok. It was an almost empty land, but its acquisition made Russia a Pacific power, and brought her into very close neighbourhood with China, into whose reserved markets, at the same period, the maritime powers of the West were forcing an entrance. At the same time Russian relations with Japan, which were to have such pregnant consequences, were beginning: in 1875 the Japanese were forced to cede the southern half of the island of Sakhalin, and perhaps we may date from this year the suspicion of Russia which dominated Japanese policy for a long time to come.
Thus, while in Europe Russia was trying to shut herself off from contact with the world, her advances in Asia had brought her at three points into the full stream of world-politics. Her vast empire, though for the most part very thinly peopled, formed beyond all comparison the greatest continuous area ever brought under a single rule, since it amounted to between eight and nine million square miles; and when the next age, the age of rivalry for world-power, began, this colossal fabric of power haunted and dominated the imaginations of men.
A demonstration of the growing power of Western civilisation, even more impressive than the expansion of the Russian Empire, was afforded during these years by the opening to Western influence of the ancient, pot-bound empires of the Far East, China and Japan. The opening of China began with the Anglo-Chinese War of 1840, which led to the acquisition of Hong-Kong and the opening of a group of treaty ports to European trade. It was carried further by the combined Franco-British war of 1857-58, which was ended by a treaty permitting the free access of European travellers, traders, and missionaries to the interior, and providing for the permanent residence of ambassadors of the signatory powers at the court of Pekin. All the European states rushed to share these privileges, and the Westernising of China had begun. It did not take place rapidly or completely, and it was accompanied by grave disturbances, notably the Taiping rebellion, which was only suppressed by the aid of the British General Gordon, in command of a Chinese army. But though the process was slow, it was fully at work by 1878. The external trade of China, nearly all in European hands, had assumed great proportions. The missionaries and schoolmasters of Europe and America were busily at work in the most populous provinces. Shanghai had become a European city, and one of the great trade-centres of the world. In a lame and incompetent way the Chinese government was attempting to organise its army on the European model, and to create a navy after the European style. Steamboats were plying on the Yang-tse-kiang, and the first few miles of railway were open. Chinese students were beginning to resort to the universities and schools of the West; and although the conservatism of the Chinese mind was very slow to make the plunge, it was already plain that this vast hive of patient, clever, and industrious men was bound to enter the orbit of Western civilisation.
Meanwhile, after a longer and stiffer resistance, Japan had made up her mind to a great change with amazing suddenness and completeness. There had been some preliminary relations with the Western peoples, beginning with the visits of the American Commodore Perry in 1853 and 1854, and a few ports had been opened to European trade. But then came a sudden, violent reaction (1862). The British embassy was attacked; a number of British subjects were murdered; a mixed fleet of British, French, Dutch, and American ships proved the power of Western arms, and Japan began to awaken to the necessity of adopting, in self-defence, the methods of these intrusive foreigners. The story of the internal revolution in Japan, which began in 1866, cannot be told here; enough that it led to the most astounding change in history. Emerging from her age-long isolation and from her contentment with her ancient, unchanging modes of life, Japan realised that the future lay with the restless and progressive civilisation of the West; and with a national resolve to which there is no sort of parallel or analogy in history, decided that she must not wait to be brought under subjection, but must adopt the new methods and ideas for herself, if possible without shedding too much of her ancient traditions. By a deliberate exercise of the will and an extraordinary effort of organisation, she became industrial without ceasing to be artistic; she adopted parliamentary institutions without abandoning her religious veneration for the person of the Mikado; she borrowed the military methods of the West without losing the chivalrous and fatalist devotion of her warrior-caste; and devised a Western educational system without disturbing the deep orientalism of her mind. It was a transformation almost terrifying, and to any Western quite bewildering, in its deliberation, rapidity, and completeness. Europe long remained unconvinced of its reality. But in 1878 the work was, in its essentials, already achieved, and the one state of non-European origin which has been able calmly to choose what she would accept and what she would reject among the systems and methods of the West, stood ready to play an equal part with the European nations in the later stages of the long imperial struggle.
One last sphere of activity remains to be surveyed before we turn to consider the development of the new British Empire: the expansion of the independent states which had arisen on the ruins of the first colonial empires in the New World. Of the Spanish and Portuguese states of Central and South America it is not necessary to say much. They had established their independence between 1815 and 1825. But the unhappy traditions of the long Spanish ascendancy had rendered them incapable of using freedom well, and Central and South America became the scene of ceaseless and futile revolutions. The influence of the American Monroe Doctrine forbade, perhaps fortunately, the intervention of any of the European states to put an end to this confusion, and America herself made no serious attempt to restrain it. It was not until the later years of our period that any large stream of immigration began to flow into these lands from other European countries than Spain and Portugal, and that their vast natural resources began to be developed by the energy and capital of Europe. But by 1878 the more fertile of these states, Argentina, Brazil, and Chili, were being enriched by these means, were becoming highly important elements in the trade-system of the world, and were consequently beginning to achieve a more stable and settled civilisation. In some regards this work (though it belongs mainly to the period after 1878) constitutes one of the happiest results of the extra-European activities of the European peoples during the nineteenth century. It was carried on, in the main, not by governments or under government encouragement, but by the private enterprises of merchants and capitalists; and while a very large part in these enterprises was played by British and American traders and settlers, one of the most notable features of the growth of South America was that it gave play to some of the European peoples, notably the Germans and the Italians, whose part in the political division of the world was relatively small.
Far more impressive was the almost miraculous expansion which came to the United States during this period. When the United States started upon their career as an independent nation in 1782, their territory was limited to the lands east of the Mississippi, excluding Florida, which was still retained by Spain. Only the eastern margin of this area was at all fully settled; and the population numbered at most 2,000,000, predominantly of British blood. In 1803, by a treaty with Napoleon, the French colony of Louisiana, with vast and ill-defined claims to the territory west of the Mississippi, was purchased from France. Meanwhile the stream of immigrants from the eastern states, and in a less degree from Europe, was pouring over the Alleghany Mountains and occupying the great central plain; and by 1815 the population had risen to almost 9,000,000, still mainly of British stock, though it also included substantial French and German elements, as well as large numbers of negro slaves. In 1819 Florida was acquired by purchase from Spain. In 1845-48 a revolution in Texas (then part of Mexico), followed by two Mexican wars, led to the annexation of a vast area extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific coast, including the paradise of California; while treaties with Britain in 1818 and 1846 determined the northern boundary of the States, and secured their control over the regions of Washington and Oregon.
Thus the imperialist spirit was working as irresistibly in the democratic communities of the New World as in the monarchies of Europe. Not content with the possession of vast and almost unpeopled areas, they had spread their dominion from ocean to ocean, and built up an empire less extensive indeed than that of Russia, but even more compact, far richer in resources, and far better suited to be the home of a highly civilised people. Into this enormous area there began to pour a mighty flood of immigration from Europe, as soon as the Napoleonic wars were over. By 1878 the population of the States had risen to about 50,000,000, and was greater than that of any European state save Russia. A new world-state of the first rank had arisen. It was made up of contributions from all the European peoples. Those of British stock, especially the Irish, still predominated throughout this period, but the Germans and the Scandinavians were becoming increasingly numerous, and the Italians, Greeks, Poles, Czechs, Russian Jews, and other stocks were beginning to form very substantial elements. It was a melting-pot of races, which had to be somehow welded into a nation by the moulding-power of the traditions implanted by the earlier British settlers. It may fairly be said that no community has ever had imposed upon it a more difficult task than the task imposed by Fate upon the American people of creating a national unity out of this heterogeneous material. The great experiment was, during this period, singularly successful. The strength of the national sentiment and of the tradition of freedom was very powerfully exhibited in the strain of the great Civil War (1861-65) which maintained at a great cost the threatened unity of the republic, and brought about the emancipation of the negro slaves. And the Civil War produced in Abraham Lincoln a national hero, and an exponent of the national character and ideals, worthy to be set beside Washington. The America of Lincoln manifestly stood for Liberty and Justice, the fundamental ideals of Western civilisation.
But in this great moulding tradition of freedom there was one dubious and narrowing element. Accustomed to regard herself as having achieved liberty by shaking off her connection with the Old World, America was tempted to think of this liberty as something peculiar to herself, something which the 'effete monarchies' of the Old World did not, and could not, fully understand or share, something which exempted her from responsibility for the non-American world, and from the duty of aiding and defending liberty beyond her own limits. In the abounding prosperity of this fortunate land, liberty was apt to be too readily identified merely with the opportunity of securing material prosperity, and the love of liberty was apt to become, what indeed it too often is everywhere, a purely self-regarding emotion. The distance of the republic from Europe and its controversies, its economic self-sufficiency, its apparent security against all attack, fostered and strengthened this feeling. While the peoples of the Old World strove with agony and travail towards freedom and justice, or wrestled with the task of sharing their own civilisation with the backward races of the globe, the echo of their strivings penetrated but faintly into the mind of America, like the noises of the street dimly heard through the shuttered windows of a warmed and lighted room. To the citizens of the Middle West and the Far West, especially, busy as they were with the development of vast untapped resources, the affairs of the outer world necessarily appeared remote and insignificant. Even their newspapers told them little about these far-off events. Naturally it appeared that the function of the republic in the progress of the world was to till its own garden, and to afford a haven of refuge to the oppressed and impoverished who poured in from all lands; and this idea was strengthened by the great number of immigrants who were driven to the New World by the failure of the successive European revolutions of the nineteenth century, and by the oppressive tyranny of the Habsburg monarchy and the Russian despots.
This attitude of aloofness from, and contempt, or, at the best, indifference, to the Old World was further encouraged by the traditional treatment of American history. The outstanding event of that story was, of course, the breach with Britain, with which the independent existence of the Republic began, and which constituted also almost its only direct contact with the politics of the Old World. The view of this conflict which was driven into the national mind by the school-books, by the annual celebrations of the Fourth of July, and by incessant newspaper writing, represented the great quarrel not as a dispute in a family of free communities, in which a new and very difficult problem was raised, and in which there were faults on both sides, but as one in which all the right was on one side, as a heroic resistance of free men against malevolent tyranny. This view has been profoundly modified by the work of American historians, whose researches during the last generation have transformed the treatment of the American Revolution. To-day the old one-sided view finds expression, in books of serious pretensions, only in England; and it is to American scholars that we must have recourse for a more scientific and impartial treatment. But the new and saner view has scarcely yet made its way into the school-books and the newspapers. If Britain, the mother of political liberty in the modern world, the land from which these freemen had inherited their own liberties and the spirit which made them insist upon their enlargement, was made to appear a tyrant power, how could it be expected that the mass of Americans, unversed in world-politics, should follow with sympathy the progress of liberty beyond the limits of their own republic? It was in the light of this traditional attitude that the bulk of Americans regarded not only the wars and controversies of Europe, but the vast process of European expansion. All these things did not appear to concern them; they seemed to be caused by motives and ideas which the great republic had outgrown, though, as we have already seen, and shall see again, the republic had by no means outgrown them. The strength of this traditional attitude, fostered as it was by every circumstance, naturally made the bulk of the American people slow to realise, when the great challenge of Germany was forced upon the world, that the problems of world-politics were as vitally important for them as for all other peoples, and that no free nation could afford to be indifferent to the fate of liberty upon the earth.
At one moment, indeed, almost at the beginning of the period, it appeared as if this narrow outlook was about to be abandoned. The League of Peace of the great European powers of 1815 had, by 1822, developed into a league of despots for the suppression of revolutionary tendencies. They had intervened to crush revolutionary outbreaks in Naples and Piedmont; they had authorised France to enter Spain in order to destroy the democratic system which had been set up in that country in 1820. Britain alone protested against these interventions, claiming that every state ought to be left free to fix its own form of government; and in 1822 Canning had practically withdrawn from the League of Peace, because it was being turned into an engine of oppression. It was notorious that, Spain once subjugated, the monarchs desired to go on to the reconquest of the revolting Spanish colonies in South America. Britain could not undertake a war on the Continent against all the Continental powers combined, but she could prevent their intervention in America, and Canning made it plain that the British fleet would forbid any such action. To strengthen his hands, he suggested to the American ambassador that the United States might take common action in this sense. The result was the famous message of President Monroe to Congress in December 1823, which declared that the United States accepted the doctrine of non-intervention, and that they would resist any attempt on the part of the European monarchs to establish their reactionary system in the New World.
 See "Nationalism and Internationalism," p. 155 ff.
In effect this was a declaration of support for Britain. It was so regarded by Monroe's most influential adviser, Thomas Jefferson. 'Great Britain,' he wrote, 'is the nation which can do us the most harm of any one, or all, on earth, and with her on our side we need not fear the whole world. With her, then, we should the most sedulously cherish a cordial friendship; and nothing would tend more to knit our affection than to be fighting once more side by side hi the same cause.' To be fighting side by side with Britain in the same cause—the cause of the secure establishment of freedom in the world—this seemed to the Democrat Jefferson an object worth aiming at; and the promise of this seemed to be the main recommendation of the Monroe Doctrine. It was intended as an alliance for the defence of freedom, not as a proclamation of aloofness; and thus America seemed to be taking her natural place as one of the powers concerned to strengthen law and liberty, not only within her own borders, but throughout the world.
The Monroe Doctrine was rapidly accepted as expressing the fundamental principle of American foreign policy. But under the influence of the powerful tradition which we have attempted to analyse, its significance was gradually changed; and instead of being interpreted as a proclamation that the great republic could not be indifferent to the fate of liberty, and would co-operate to defend it from attack in all cases where such co-operation was reasonably practicable, it came to be interpreted by average public opinion as meaning that America had no concern with the politics of the Old World, and that the states of the Old World must not be allowed to meddle in any of the affairs of either American continent. The world of civilisation was to be divided into water-tight compartments; as if it were not indissolubly one. Yet even in this rather narrow form, the Monroe doctrine has on the whole been productive of good; it has helped to save South America from becoming one of the fields of rivalry of the European powers.
But it may be doubted whether the mere enunciation of the doctrine, even in this precise and definite form, has of itself been sufficient to secure this end. There is good reason to believe that the doctrine would not have been safe from challenge if it had not been safeguarded by the supremacy of the British Fleet. For throughout the last half-century all the world has known that any defiance of this doctrine, and any attack upon America, would bring Britain into the field. During all this period one of the factors of world-politics has been the existence of an informal and one-sided alliance between Britain and America. The alliance has been informal, because it has not rested upon any treaty or even upon any definite understanding. It has been one-sided, because while average opinion in America has been distrustful of Britain, has been apt to put unfavourable constructions upon British policy, and has generally failed to appreciate the value and significance of the work which Britain has done in the outer world, Britain, on the other hand, has always known that America stood for justice and freedom; and therefore, however difficult the relations between the two powers might occasionally become, Britain has steadfastly refused to consider the possibility of a breach with America, and with rare exceptions has steadily given her support to American policy. The action of the British squadron off the Philippines in 1898, in quietly interposing itself between the threatening German guns and the American Fleet, has, in fact, been broadly typical of the British attitude. This factor has not only helped to preserve the Monroe Doctrine from challenge, it has indirectly contributed to deepen the American conviction that it was possible, even in the changed conditions of the modern world, to maintain a complete isolation from the political controversies of the powers.
During the period 1815-1878, then, while the greater part of Europe was still indifferent to extra-European affairs, America had developed into a vast state wherein freedom and law were enthroned, a huge melting-pot wherein diverse peoples were being gradually unified and turned into a new nation under the moulding power of a great tradition of liberty. But her geographical position, and certain elements in her tradition, had hitherto led her to abstain from, and even to repudiate, that great part in the shaping of the common destinies of civilisation to which she was manifestly called by her wealth, her numbers, her freedom, and her share in the traditions of all the European peoples. In the nature of things, whatever some Americans might think, this voluntary isolation could not continue for ever. It was to be brought to an end by the fevered developments of the next era, and by the great challenge to the liberties of the world in which it culminated.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE, 1815-1878
Mighty as had been the achievements of other lands which have been surveyed in the last section, the main part in the expansion of European civilisation over the world during the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century was played by Britain. For she was engaged in opening out new continents and sub-continents; and she was giving an altogether new significance to the word 'Empire.' Above all, she was half-blindly laying the foundations of a system whereby freedom and the enriching sense of national unity might be realised at once in the new and vacant lands of the earth, and among its oldest civilised peoples; she was feeling her way towards a mode of linking diverse and free states in a common brotherhood of peace and mutual respect. There is no section of the history of European imperialism more interesting than the story of the growth and organisation of the heterogeneous and disparate empire with which Britain entered upon the new age.
This development appeared, on the surface, to be quite haphazard, and to be governed by no clearly grasped theories or policy. It is indeed true that at all times British policy has not been governed by theory, but by the moulding force of a tradition of ordered freedom. The period produced in Britain no imperialist statesman of the first rank, nor did imperial questions play a leading part in the deliberations of parliament. In fact, the growth of the British Empire and its organisation were alike spontaneous and unsystematic; their only guide (but it proved to be a good guide) was the spirit of self-government, existing in every scattered section of the people; and the part played by the colonists themselves, and by the administrative officers in India and elsewhere, was throughout more important than the part played by colonial secretaries, East Indian directors, parliamentarians and publicists at home. For that reason the story is not easily handled in a broad and simple way.
Enjoying almost a monopoly of oversea activity, Britain was free, in most parts of the world, to expand her dominions as she thought fit. Her statesmen, however, were far from desiring further expansion: they rightly felt that the responsibilities already assumed were great enough to tax the resources of any state, however rich and populous. But, try as they would, they could not prevent the inevitable process of expansion. Several causes contributed to produce this result. Perhaps the most important was the unexampled growth of British trade, which during these years dominated the whole world; and the flag is apt to follow trade. A second cause was the pressure of economic distress and the extraordinarily rapid increase of population at home, leading to wholesale emigration; in the early years of the century an extravagantly severe penal code, which inflicted the penalty of death, commonly commuted into transportation, for an incredible number of offences, gave an artificial impetus to this movement. The restless and adventurous spirit of the settlers in huge and unexplored new countries contributed another motive for expansion. And in some cases, notably in India, political necessity seemed to demand annexations. Over a movement thus stimulated, the home authorities found themselves, with the best will in the world, unable to exercise any effective restraint; and the already colossal British Empire continued to grow. It is no doubt to be regretted that other European nations were not able during this period to take part in the development of the non-European world in a more direct way than by sending emigrants to America or the British lands. But it is quite certain that the growth of British territory is not to be attributed in any degree to the deliberate policy, or to the greed, of the home government, which did everything in its power to check it.
In India the Russian menace seemed to necessitate the adoption of a policy towards the independent states of the North-West which brought an extension of the frontier, between 1839 and 1849, to the great mountain ranges which form the natural boundary of India in this direction; while a succession of intolerable and quite unprovoked aggressions by the Burmese led to a series of wars which resulted in the annexation of very great territories in the east and north-east: Assam, Aracan, and Tenasserim hi 1825; Pegu and Rangoon in 1853; finally, in 1885-86, the whole remainder of the Burmese Empire. In North America settlers found their way across the Rocky Mountains or over the Isthmus of Panama into the region of British Columbia, which was given a distinct colonial organisation in 1858; and the colonisation of the Red River Settlement, 1811-18, which became hi 1870 the province of Manitoba, began the development of the great central plain. In South Africa frontier wars with the Kaffirs, and the restless movements of Boer trekkers, brought about an expansion of the limits of Cape Colony, the annexation of Natal, and the temporary annexation of the Orange River Settlement and the Transvaal; but all these additions were most reluctantly accepted; the Orange River Settlement and the Transvaal soon had their independence restored, though the former, at any rate, accepted it unwillingly. In Australia, drafts of new settlers planting themselves at new points led to the organisation of six distinct colonies between 1825 and 1859; and this implied the definite annexation of the whole continent. New Zealand was annexed in 1839, but only because British traders had already established themselves in the islands, were in unhappy relations with the natives, and had to be brought under control.
But it was not the territorial expansion of the British Empire which gave significance to this period in its history, but, in a far higher degree, the new principles of government which were developed during its course. The new colonial policy which gradually shaped itself during this age was so complete a departure from every precedent of the past, and represented so remarkable an experiment in imperial government, that its sources deserve a careful analysis. It was brought into being by a number of distinct factors and currents of opinion which were at work both in Britain and in the colonies.
In the first place, there existed in Britain, as in other European countries, a large body of opinion which held that all colonies were sure to demand and obtain their independence as soon as they became strong enough to desire it; that as independent states they could be quite as profitable to the mother-country as they could ever be while they remained attached to her, more especially if the parting took place without bitterness; and that the wisest policy for Britain to pursue was therefore to facilitate their development, to place no barrier in the way of the increase of their self-government, and to enable them at the earliest moment to start as free nations on their own account. This was not, indeed, the universal, nor perhaps even the preponderant, attitude in regard to the colonies in the middle of the nineteenth century. But it was pretty common. It appeared in the most unexpected quarters, as when Disraeli said that the colonies were 'millstones about our necks,' or as when The Times advocated in a leading article the cession of Canada to the United States, on the ground that annexation to the great Republic was the inevitable destiny of that colony, and that it was much better that it should be carried out in a peaceable and friendly way than after a conflict. It is difficult to-day to realise that men could ever have entertained such opinions. But they were widely held; and it must at least be obvious that the prevalence of these views is quite inconsistent with the idea that Britain was deliberately following a policy of expansion and annexation in this age. Men who held these opinions (and they were to be found in every party) regarded with resentment and alarm every addition to what seemed to them the useless burdens assumed by the nation, and required to be satisfied that every new annexation of territory was not merely justifiable, but inevitable.
A second factor which contributed to the change of attitude towards the colonies was the growing influence of a new school of economic thought, the school of Adam Smith, Ricardo, and Malthus. Their ideas had begun to affect national policy as early as the twenties, when Huskisson took the first steps on the way to free trade. In the thirties the bulk of the trading and industrial classes had become converts to these ideas, which won their definite victories in the budgets of Sir Robert Peel, 1843-46, and in those of his disciple Gladstone. The essence of this doctrine, as it affected colonial policy, was that the regulation of trade by government, which had been the main object of the old colonial policy, brought no advantages, but only checked its free development. And for a country in the position which Britain then occupied, this was undeniably true; so overwhelming was her preponderance in world-trade that every current seemed to set in her direction, and the removal of artificial barriers, originally designed to train the current towards her shores, allowed it to follow its natural course. The only considerable opposition to this body of economic doctrine came from those who desired to protect British agriculture; but this motive had (at this period) no bearing upon colonial trade. The triumph of the doctrine of free trade meant that the principal motive which had earlier led to restrictions upon the self-government of the colonies—the desire to secure commercial advantages for the mother-country—was no longer operative. The central idea of the old colonial system was destroyed by the disciples of Adam Smith; and there no longer remained any apparent reason why the mother-country should desire to control the fiscal policy of the colonies. An even more important result of the adoption of this new economic doctrine was that it destroyed every motive which would lead the British government to endeavour to secure for British traders a monopoly of the traffic with British possessions. Henceforth all territories administered under the direct control of the home government were thrown open as freely to the merchants of other countries as to those of Britain herself. The part which Britain now undertook in the undeveloped regions of her empire (except in so far as they were controlled by fully self-governing colonies) was simply that of maintaining peace and law; and in these regions she adopted an attitude which may fairly be described as the attitude, not of a monopolist, but of a trustee for civilisation. It was this policy which explains the small degree of jealousy with which the rapid expansion of her territory was regarded by the rest of the civilised world. If the same policy had been followed, not necessarily at home, but in their colonial possessions, by all the colonising powers, the motives for colonial rivalry would have been materially diminished, and the claims of various states to colonial territories, when the period of rivalry began, would have been far more easily adjusted.
These were negative forces, leading merely to the abandonment of the older colonial theories. But there were also positive and constructive forces at work. First among them may be noted a new body of definite theory as to the function which colonies ought to play in the general economy of the civilised world. It was held to be their function not (as in the older theory) to afford lucrative opportunities for trade to the mother-country: so far as trade was concerned it seemed to matter little whether a country was a colony or an independent state. But the main object of colonisation was, on this view, the systematic draining-off of the surplus population of the older lands. This, it was felt, could not safely be left to the operation of mere chance; and one of the great advantages of colonial possessions was that they enabled the country which controlled them to deal in a scientific way with its surplus population, and to prevent the reproduction of unhealthy conditions in the new communities, which was apt to result if emigrants were allowed to drift aimlessly wheresoever chance took them, and received no guidance as to the proper modes of establishing themselves in their new homes. The great apostle of this body of colonial theory was Edward Gibbon Wakefield; and his book, A View of the Art of Colonisation (1847), deserves to be noted as one of the classics of the history of imperialism. He did not confine himself to theory, but was tireless in organising practical experiments. They were carried out, in a curious revival of the methods of the seventeenth century, by means of a series of colonising companies which Wakefield promoted. The settlement of South Australia, the first considerable settlement in the North Island of New Zealand, and the two admirably designed and executed settlements of Canterbury and Otago in the South Island of New Zealand, were all examples of his methods: with the exception of the North Island settlement, they were all very successful. Nor were these the only instances of organised and assisted emigration. In 1820 a substantial settlement, financed by government, was made in the eastern part of Cape Colony, in the region of Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth, and this brought the first considerable body of British inhabitants into South Africa, hitherto almost exclusively Dutch. An unsuccessful plantation at Swan River in West Australia may also be noted. Systematic and scientific colonisation was thus being studied in Britain during this period as never before. In the view of its advocates Britain was the trustee of civilisation for the administration of the most valuable unpeopled regions of the earth, and it was her duty to see that they were skilfully utilised. So high a degree of success attended some of their efforts that it is impossible not to regret that they were not carried further. But they depended upon Crown control of undeveloped lands. With the growth of full self-government in the colonies the exercise of these Crown functions was transferred from the ministry and parliament of Britain to the ministries and parliaments of the colonies; and this transference put an end to the possibility of a centralised organisation and direction of emigration.
A second constructive factor very potently at work during this age was the humanitarian spirit, which had become a powerful factor in British life during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It had received perhaps its most practical expression in the abolition of the slave-trade in 1806, and the campaign against the slave-trade in the rest of the world became an important object of British policy from that time onwards. Having abolished the slave-trade, the humanitarians proceeded to advocate the complete abolition of negro slavery throughout the British Empire. They won their victory in 1833, when the British parliament declared slavery illegal throughout the Empire, and voted 20,000,000 pounds—at a time when British finance was still suffering from the burdens of the Napoleonic War—to purchase from their masters the freedom of all the slaves then existing in the Empire. It was a noble deed, but it was perhaps carried out a little too suddenly, and it led to grave difficulties, especially in the West Indies, whose prosperity was seriously impaired, and in South Africa, where it brought about acute friction with the slave-owning Boer farmers. But it gave evidence of the adoption of a new attitude towards the backward races, hitherto mercilessly exploited by all the imperialist powers. One expression of this attitude had already been afforded by the organisation (1787) of the colony of Sierra Leone, on the West African coast, as a place of refuge for freed slaves desiring to return to the land of their fathers.
It was principally through the activity of missionaries that this new point of view was expressed and cultivated. Organised missionary activity in Britain dates from the end of the eighteenth century, but its range grew with extraordinary rapidity throughout the period. And wherever the missionaries went, they constituted themselves the protectors and advocates of the native races among whom they worked. Often enough they got themselves into bad odour with the European traders and settlers with whom they came in contact. But through their powerful home organisations they exercised very great influence over public opinion and over government policy. The power of 'Exeter Hall,' where the religious bodies and the missionary societies held their meetings in London, was at its height in the middle of the nineteenth century, and politicians could not afford to disregard it, even if they had desired to do so. This influence, supporting the trend of humanitarian opinion, succeeded in establishing it as one of the principles of British imperial policy that it was the duty of the British government to protect the native races against the exploitation of the European settlers, and to guide them gently into a civilised way of life. It is a sound and noble principle, and it may fairly be said that it has been honestly carried out, so far as the powers of the home government rendered possible. No government in the world controls a greater number or variety of subjects belonging to the backward races than the British; no trading nation has had greater opportunities for the oppressive exploitation of defenceless subjects. Yet the grave abuse of these opportunities has been infrequent. There have been in the history of modern British imperialism sporadic instances of injustice, like the forced labour of Kanakas in the Pacific. But there have been no Congo outrages, no Putumayo atrocities, no Pequena slave scandals, no merciless slaughter like that of the Hereros in German South-West Africa.
The principle of the protection of backward peoples has, however, sometimes had an unfortunate influence upon colonial policy; and there was no colony in which it exercised a more unhappy effect than South Africa. Here the Boer farmers still retained towards their native neighbours the attitude which had been characteristic of all the European peoples in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: they regarded the negro as a natural inferior, born to servitude. It is not surprising that no love was lost between the Boers and the missionaries, who appeared as the protectors of the negroes, and whose representations turned British opinion violently against the whole Boer community. This was in itself a sufficiently unfortunate result: it lies largely at the base of the prolonged disharmony which divided the two peoples in South Africa. The belief that the Boers could not be trusted to deal fairly with the natives formed, for a long period, the chief reason which urged the British Government to retain their control over the Boers, even when they had trekked away from the Cape (1836) and established themselves beyond the Orange and the Vaal rivers; and the conflict of this motive with the desire to avoid any increase of colonial responsibilities, and with the feeling that if the Boers disliked the British system, they had better be left in freedom to organise themselves in their own way, accounts for the curious vacillation in the policy of the period on this question. At first the trekkers were left to themselves; then the lands which they had occupied were annexed; then their independence was recognised; and finally, when, at the end of the period, they seemed to be causing a dangerous excitement among the Zulus and other native tribes, the Transvaal was once more annexed; with the result that revolt broke out, and the Majuba campaign had to be fought.
Again, tenderness for the natives led to several curious and not very successful experiments in organisation. The annexation of Natal was long delayed because it was held that this area ought to form a native reserve, and fruitless attempts were made to restrict the settlement of Europeans in this empty and fertile land. An attempt was also made to set up a series of native areas under British protection, from which the white settler was excluded. British Kaffraria, Griqualand East and Griqualand West were examples of this policy, which is still represented, not unsuccessfully, by the great protected area of Basutoland. But, on the whole, these experiments in the handling of the native problem in South Africa did more harm than good. They were unsuccessful mainly because South Africa was a white man's country, into which the most vigorous of the native races, those of the Bantu stock (Kaffirs, Zulus, Matabili, etc.), were more recent immigrants than the white men themselves. Owing to their warlike character and rapidly growing numbers they constituted for a long time a very formidable danger; and neither the missionaries nor the home authorities sufficiently recognised these facts.
Perhaps the most unhappy result of this friction over the native question, apart from the alienation of Boer and Briton which it produced, was the fact that it was the principal cause of the long delay in establishing self-governing institutions in South Africa. The home government hesitated to give to the colonists full control over their own affairs, because it distrusted the use which they were likely to make of their powers over the natives; even the normal institutions of all British colonies were not established in Cape Colony till 1854, and in Natal till 1883. But although in this case the new attitude towards the backward races led to some unhappy results, the spirit which inspired it was altogether admirable, and its growing strength accounts in part for the real degree of success which has been achieved by British administrators in the government of regions not suited for the settlement of Europeans in large numbers. Indeed, this spirit has come to be one of the outstanding features of modern British imperialism.
It was not only in the treatment of backward races that the humanitarian spirit made itself felt. It was at work also in the government of the highly developed civilisations of India, where, during this period, British power began to be boldly used to put an end to barbarous or inhumane practices which were supported or tolerated by the religious beliefs or immemorial social usages of India. Such practices as thagi, or meria sacrifices, or female infanticide, or, above all, sati, had been left undisturbed by the earlier rulers of British India, because they feared that interference with them would be resented as an infraction of Indian custom or religion. They were now boldly attacked, and practically abolished, without evil result.
Alongside of this new courage in measures that seemed to be dictated by the moral ideas of the West, there was to be seen growing throughout this period a new temper of respect for Indian civilisation and a desire to study and understand it, and to safeguard its best features. The study of early Indian literature, law, and religious philosophy had indeed been begun in the eighteenth century by Sir William Jones and Nathaniel Halhed, with the ardent encouragement of Warren Hastings. But in this as in other respects Hastings was ahead of the political opinion of his time; the prevalent idea was that the best thing for India would be the introduction, so far as possible, of British methods. This led to the absurdities of the Supreme Court, established in 1773 to administer English law to Indians. It led also to the great blunder of Cornwallis's settlement of the land question in Bengal, which was an attempt to assimilate the Indian land-system to that of England, and resulted in an unhappy weakening of the village communities, the most healthy features of Indian rural life. In the nineteenth century this attitude was replaced by a spirit of respect for Indian traditions and methods of organisation, and by a desire to retain and strengthen their best features. The new attitude was perhaps to be seen at its best in the work of Mountstuart Elphinstone, a great administrator who was also a profound student of Indian history, and a very sympathetic observer and friend of Indian customs and modes of life. But the same spirit was exemplified by the whole of the remarkable generation of statesmen of whom Elphinstone was one. They established the view that it was the duty of the British power to reorganise India, indeed, but to reorganise it on lines in accordance with its own traditions. Above all, the principle was in this generation very definitely established that India, like other great dependencies, must be administered in the interests of its own people, and not in the interests of the ruling race. That seems to us to-day a platitude. It would not have seemed a platitude in the eighteenth century. It would not seem a platitude in modern Germany. And it may safely be said that the enunciation of such a doctrine would have seemed merely absurd in any of the earlier historical empires. In 1833 an official report laid before the British parliament contained these remarkable words: 'It is recognised as an indisputable principle, that the interests of the Native Subjects are to be consulted in preference to those of Europeans, wherever the two come in competition.' In all the records of imperialism it would be hard to find a parallel to this formal statement of policy by the supreme government of a ruling race. When such a statement could be made, it is manifest that the meaning of the word Empire had undergone a remarkable transformation. No one can read the history of British rule in India during this period without feeling that, in spite of occasional lapses, this was its real spirit.
But the most powerful constructive element in the shaping of the new imperial policy of Britain was the strength of the belief in the idea of self-government, as not only morally desirable but practically efficacious, which was to be perceived at work in the political circles of Britain during this age. Self-government had throughout the modern age been a matter of habit and practice with the British peoples; now it became a matter of theory and belief. And from this resulted a great change of attitude towards the problems of colonial administration. The American problem in the eighteenth century had arisen ultimately out of the demand of the Americans for unqualified and responsible control over their own affairs: the attitude of the Englishman in reply to this demand (though he never clearly analysed it) was, in effect, that self-government was a good and desirable thing, but that on the scale on which the Americans claimed it, it would be fatal to the unity of the Empire, and the unity of the Empire must come first. Faced by similar problems in the nineteenth century, the Englishman's response generally was that self-government on the fullest scale was the right of all who were fit to exercise it, and the most satisfactory working solution of political problems. Therefore the right must be granted; and the unity of the Empire must take care of itself. No doubt this attitude was more readily adopted because of the widespread belief that in fact the colonies would all sooner or later cut their connection with the mother-country. But it was fully shared by men who did not hold this view, and who believed strongly in the possibility and desirability of maintaining imperial unity. It was shared, for example, by Wakefield, a convinced imperialist if ever there was one, and by that great colonial administrator, Sir George Grey. It was shared by Lord Durham and by Lord John Russell, who were largely responsible for the adoption of the new policy. Their belief and hope was that the common possession of free institutions of kindred types would in fact form the most effective tie between the lands which enjoyed them. This hope obtained an eloquent expression in the speech in which, in 1852, Russell introduced the bill for granting to the Australian colonies self-government on such a scale as amounted almost to independence. It is not true, as is sometimes said, that the self-governing institutions of the colonies were established during this period owing to the indifference of the home authorities, and their readiness to put an end to the connection. The new policy of these years was deliberately adopted; and although its acceptance by parliament was rendered easier by the prevalence of disbelief in the permanence of the imperial tie, yet, on the part of the responsible men, it was due to far-sighted statesmanship.
The critical test of the new colonial policy, and the most dramatic demonstration of its efficacy, were afforded by Canada, where, during the thirties, the conditions which preceded the revolt of the American colonies were being reproduced with curious exactness. The self-governing institutions established in the Canadian colonies in 1791 very closely resembled those of the American colonies before the revolution: they gave to the representative houses control over taxation and legislation, but neither control over, nor responsibility for, the executive. And the same results were following. Incomplete self-government was striving after its own fulfilment: the denial of responsibility was producing irresponsibility. These was the same unceasing friction between governors and their councils on the one hand, and the representative bodies on the other hand; and the assemblies were showing the same unreasonableness in refusing to meet manifest public obligations. This state of things was becoming steadily more acute in all the colonies, but it was at its worst in the province of Quebec, where the constitutional friction was embittered by a racial conflict, the executive body being British, while the great majority of the assembly was French; and the conflict was producing a very dangerous alienation between the two peoples. The French colonists had quite forgotten the gratitude they had once felt for the maintenance of their religion and of their social organisation, and there was a strong party among them who were bent upon open revolt, and hoped to be able to establish a little isolated French community upon the St. Lawrence. This party of hotheads got the upper hand, and their agitation culminated in the rebellion of Papineau in 1837. In the other colonies, and especially in Upper Canada, the conditions were almost equally ominous; when Papineau revolted in Quebec, William Mackenzie led a sympathetic rising in Ontario. The situation was quite as alarming as the situation in the American colonies had been in 1775. It is true that the risings were easily put down. But mere repression formed no solution, any more than a British victory in 1775 would have formed a solution of the American question.
Realising this, the Whig government sent out Lord Durham, one of their own number, to report on the whole situation. Durham was one of the most advanced Liberals in Britain, a convinced believer in the virtues of self-government, and he took out with him two of the ablest advocates of scientific colonisation, Edward Gibbon Wakefield and Charles Buller. Durham's administrative work was not a success: his high-handed deportation of some of the rebel leaders was strongly condemned, and he was very quickly recalled. But he had had time to study and understand the situation, and he presented a masterly Report on Canada, which is one of the classics in the history of British imperialism. His explanation of the unhappy condition of Canadian politics was not (as some were tempted to say) that the colonists had been given too much liberty, but that they had not been given enough. They must be made to feel their responsibility for the working of the laws which they adopted, and for the welfare of the whole community. As for the conflict of races, its only cure was that both should be made to feel their common responsibility for the destinies of the community in which both must remain partners.