This evolution has been the result of man's increasing control over nature. In the pastoral stage he takes of the produce of nature, providing little or nothing himself. In the agricultural stage he manipulates the soil and subdues it, he harnesses the wind and the streams to grind his corn, and to water his land; Providence may have placed all things under his feet, but he takes long to discover their use and the means to use them. In the commercial and industrial stages he employs the wind and water, steam and electricity, for transport, communications, and manufactures. But he can only develop this mastery by the interdependent processes of specialization, co-operation, and expansion. A lonely shepherd can live on his flocks without help; a single family can provide for its own agricultural subsistence, and the normal holding of the primitive English family, the "hide" as it was called, was really a share in all the means of livelihood, corn-land, pasture-land, rights of common and of cutting wood. This family independence long survived, and home-brewing, home-baking, home- washing, are not even now extinct. Each family in the primitive village did everything for itself. When its needs and standard of comfort grew, increased facilities beyond the reach of the individual household were provided by the lord of the manor, as, for instance, a mill, a bakehouse, a wine-press. Indeed, the possession of these things may have helped him into the lordship of the manor. Certainly, some of them are mentioned in early Anglo-Saxon days among the qualifications for thegnhood, and when the lord possessed these things, he claimed a monopoly; his tenants were bound to grind their corn at his mill, and so forth. But there were things he did not care to do, and a villager here and there began to specialize in such trades as the blacksmith's, carpenter's, and mason's. This specialization involved co-operation and the expansion of household economy into village economy. Others must do the blacksmith's sowing and reaping, while he did the shoeing for the whole village.
Thus village industries grew up, and in unprogressive countries, such as India, where, owing to distance and lack of communications, villages were isolated and self-sufficing, this village economy became stereotyped, and the village trades hereditary. But in western Europe, as order was slowly evolved after the chaos of the Dark Ages, communications and trade-routes were opened up; and whole villages began to specialize in certain industries, leaving other commodities to be produced by other communities. For the exchange of these commodities markets and fairs were established at various convenient centres; and this in turn led to the specialization of traders and merchants, who did not make, but only arranged for the barter of, manufactures. Through the development of local industries and markets, villages grew into towns, and towns expanded with the extent of the area they supplied. A town which supplied a nation with cutlery, for instance, was necessarily bigger than a town which only supplied a county. This expansion of markets meant that towns and cities were more and more specializing in some one or more industries, leaving the great majority of their needs to be supplied from elsewhere; and the whole process was based on the growing complexity of civilization, on the multiplying number of implements required to do the work of the world.
The comparatively simple organization of feudal society broke down under the stress of these changes; a middle class, consisting of neither lords nor villeins, was needed to cope with industry and commerce. Handworkers also were required, so that from the middle of the fourteenth century we find a regular flight from the land to the towns in progress. Another great change took place. No one had been rich according to modern notions in the early Middle Ages, and no one had been destitute; there was no need of a Poor Law. But with the expansion of the sphere of men's operations, the differences between the poor and the rich began to increase. There is little to choose between a slow runner and a swift when the race covers only ten yards; there is more when it covers a hundred, and a great deal when it covers a mile. So, too, when operations are limited to the village market, ability has a limited scope, and the able financier does not grow so very much richer than his neighbour. But when his market comprises a nation, his means for acquiring wealth are extended; the rich become richer, and the poor, comparatively at any rate, poorer. Hence, when in the fourteenth and following centuries the national market expands into a world market, we find growing up side by side capitalism and destitution; and the reason why there are so many millionaires and so much destitution to-day, compared with earlier times, is that the world is now one market, and the range of operations is only limited by the globe.
The control of the world's supplies tends to get into the hands of a few big producers or operators instead of being in the hands of a vast number of small ones; and this has come about through ever-expanding markets and ever-increasing specialization. Even whole nations specialize more or less; some produce the corn-supply of the world, some its coal, some its oil, and some do its carrying trade. It is now a question whether there should not be some limits to this process, and it is asked whether a nation or empire should not be self-supporting, irrespective of the economic advantages of expansion and specialization, and of the fact that the more self-supporting it is, the less trade can it do with others; for it cannot export unless it imports, and if each nation makes everything it wants itself it will neither sell to, nor buy from, other nations.
There have been two periods in English history during which these general tendencies have been especially marked. One was at the close of the Middle Ages, and the other during the reign of George III. The break-up of the manorial system, the growth of a body of mobile labour, and of capital seeking investment, the discovery of new worlds and new markets, heralded the advent of the middle class and of the commercial age. Custom, which had regulated most things in the Middle Ages, gave way to competition, which defied all regulation; and England became a nation of privateers, despoiling the church, Spain, Ireland, and often the commonwealth itself. Scores of acts against fraudulent manufacturers and against inclosures were passed in vain, because they ran counter to economic conditions. The products of the new factories, like Jack of Newbury's kerseys, could not equal in quality the older home-made article, because the home-made article was produced under non-economic conditions. Spinsters today knit better garments than those turned out in bulk, because neither time nor money is any consideration with them; they knit for occupation, not for a living, and they can afford to devote more labour to their produce than they could possibly do if they depended upon it for subsistence. The case was the same with the home-products of earlier times, and compared with them the newer factory-product was shoddy; because, if the manufacturer was to earn a living from his industry he must produce a certain quantity within a limited time. These by-products of the home were enabled to hold their own against the factory products until the development of machinery in the eighteenth century; and until that time the factory system, although factories existed on a rudimentary scale, did not fully develop. So far as it did develop, it meant an increase in the efficiency and in the total wealth of the nation, but a decrease in the prosperity of thousands of individual households.
The effect of inclosures was very similar. The old system of the villagers cultivating in turn strips of land in open fields was undoubtedly unsound, if the amount of wealth produced is the sole criterion; but it produced enough for the individual village-community, and the increased production accruing from inclosures went to swell the total wealth of the nation and of those who manipulated it at the cost of the tillers of the soil. The cost to the community was potential rather than actual; common lands which are now worth millions were appropriated by landlords in defiance of the law. This illegality was remedied in 1549, not by stopping the inclosures but by making them legal, provided that "sufficient" commons were left; if the incloser considered his leavings enough, the gainsaying of the tenants was to be ignored, or punished as treason or felony in case of persistence. England, however, was still fairly big for its three or four millions of souls, and an Act of Queen Elizabeth provided that every new cottage built should stand in four acres of its own. This anticipation of the demand for three acres and a cow did something to check excessive specialization; for the tenants of these cottages added a little cultivation on their own account to their occupations as hired labourers or village artisans. In the seventeenth century the land- hunger of the landlords was generally sated by schemes for draining and embanking; and vast tracts of fen and marsh, such as Hatfield Chase and Bedford Level, were thus brought under cultivation.
Commerce rather than industrialism or agriculture is the distinctive feature of English economy during the seventeenth and first half of the eighteenth century. By means of newly developed trade-routes, the East and the West were tapped for such products as tobacco, tea, coffee, cocoa, sugar, rum, spices, oranges, lemons, raisins, currants, silks, cotton, rice, and others with which England had previously somehow or other dispensed; and the principal bone of contention was the carrying trade of the world. Shipbuilding was the most famous English industry; and when Peter the Great visited England, he spent most of his time in the Deptford yards. For some of these imports England paid by her services as carrier; and so far as India was concerned it was a case of robbery rather than exchange. But exports were more and more required to pay for the ever-increasing imports. It is impossible to state categorically either that the imports provoked the exports or the exports the imports; for the supply creates the demand as much as the demand creates the supply. There can have been no conscious demand for tobacco in England before any Englishman had smoked a pipe; and when an English merchant in Elizabeth's reign took a thousand kerseys to Bokhara, he did so without waiting for an order. Both exports and imports, however, can only develop together; the dimensions to which English commerce had attained by Walpole's time involved exports as well as imports; and the exports could not have been provided without developing English industries.
In particular, England had to export to the colonies because the colonies had by the Navigation Acts to export to England; and Walpole's abolition or reduction of duties on colonial produce illustrated and encouraged the growth of this trade. In return for colonial tobacco, rice, cotton, sugar, England sent chiefly woollen and afterwards cotton manufactures. These woollens had long been manufactured on the domestic system in the sheep-rearing districts of England, particularly Yorkshire; many a cottage with its four acres for farming had also its spinning-wheel, and many a village its loom; and the cloth when finished was conveyed by pack-horses or waggons to the markets and fairs to be sold for export or home consumption. But between 1764 and 1779 a series of inventions by Arkwright, Hargreaves, and Crompton, transformed the simple spinning-wheel into an elaborate machine capable of doing the work of many spinners; and once more an advance in national productivity was made at the expense of the individual workers who took to breaking the machines to stop their loss of work.
Similar changes followed in cotton-spinning and other industries, and the result was to alter the whole economic structure of England. The cottager could not afford the new and expensive machinery, and his spinning-wheels and hand-looms were hopelessly beaten in the competition. Huge factories were required for the new inventions, where the workers were all huddled together instead of working in their scattered homes; and large populations grew up around these new and artificial manufacturing centres. Their locality was, however, determined by natural causes; at first water-power was the best available force to drive the new machines, and consequently towns sprang up along the banks of rivers. But Watt's application of steam- power to machinery soon supplanted water; and for steam-power coal and iron were the greatest necessities. Factories therefore tended to congregate where coal and iron were found; and the need for these materials created the coal and iron industries. Moreover, the pack- horse, the waggon, and the old unmetalled roads soon proved inadequate for the new requirements of transport. For a time canals became the favourite substitute, and many were constructed. Then Macadam invented his method of making roads; finally, Stephenson developed the steam locomotive, and the railway system came into existence.
Closely connected with these changes was a renewal of the inclosure movement. The introduction of turnips and other roots, and the development of the rotation of crops increased the value of the soil and revived the stimulus to inclosure; and hundreds of inclosure acts were hurriedly passed by a parliament which contained no representatives of those who suffered from the process. It was assisted by the further specialization consequent upon the industrial revolution; while the agricultural labourer gave up spinning under the stress of factory competition, the spinner deserted his cottage and four acres in the country, to seek a dwelling near the factory which employed him; and the Elizabethan Act, insisting upon the allocation of four acres to each new cottage built, was repealed. But for that repeal, factory slums would be garden cities, unless the incubus of this provision had stopped the factory development. The final result of the inclosure movement upon the country was to deprive the public of most of its commons and open spaces, to deprive the agricultural labourer of all right in the soil he tilled, and to rob him of that magic of property which, in Arthur Young's phrase, turned sand into gold.
The inevitable adjustment of the population to these altered economic conditions entirely changed its distribution. Hitherto the progressive and predominant parts of England had been the south and east; conservatism found its refuge in the north and west, which rebelled against the Tudors and fought for Charles I. The south and east had been the manufacturing centres because iron was smelted with wood and not with coal. Now that coal was substituted for wood, the juxtaposition of coal and iron mines in the north attracted thither the industries of the nation, while the special features of its climate made South Lancashire the home of cotton-spinning. The balance of population and political power followed. To-day southern England, apart from London and some other ports, hardly does more than subsist, and its occupations are largely parasitic. The work and the wealth and the trade which support the empire and its burdens have their origin and being in the north.
The population not only shifted, but rapidly increased. The uprooting of peasants from their little plots of land which acted in medieval England and acts to-day in France as a check upon breeding, and their herding in crowded tenements, weakened both moral and prudential restraints in the towns; while in the country the well-meant but ill- considered action of the justices of the peace in supplementing the beggarly wages of the labourers by grants out of the rates proportioned to the number of each man's children produced a similar effect. The result was an increase in the population welcome to patriots who hoped for hordes of soldiers and sailors to fight Napoleon, but startling to economists like Malthus, who inferred therefrom a natural law constraining population to outrun the earth's increase. Malthus did not foresee the needs of the empire, nor realize that the rapid growth in the population of his day was largely due to the absence from the proletariate of a standard of comfort and decency. Without the Industrial Revolution Great Britain would not have been able to people the lands she had marked for her own.
This increase and shifting of the people put the finishing touch to the incongruities of the old political system, in which vast centres of population teeming with life and throbbing with industry were unrepresented, while members sat in parliament for boroughs so decayed that nothing was left of them but a green mound, a park, or a ruined wall. The struggle with the French Revolution and then with Napoleon gave the vested interests a respite from their doom; and for seventeen years after its close the Tories sat, clothed in the departing glories of the war, upon the safety-valve of constitutional reform. Then in 1832, after one general election fought on this issue, and after further resistance by the House of Lords on behalf of the liberties of borough-proprietors and faggot-voters, the threat to create peers induced a number to abstain sufficient to ensure the passing of the first Reform Bill. It was a moderate measure to have brought the country to the verge of political revolution; roughly, it disfranchised a number of poor voters, but enfranchised the mass of the middle and lower middle-class. Absolutely rotten boroughs were abolished, but a large number of very small ones were retained, and the representation of the new towns was somewhat grudging and restricted. A more drastic measure, giving the vote to most of the town artisans was—being introduced by a Tory minister, Disraeli, in 1867—passed by the House of Lords without difficulty. The last alteration of the franchise, giving the vote to agricultural labourers was—being introduced by Gladstone in 1884—only passed by the House of Lords at the second time of asking and after an agitation.
Political emancipation was but one of the results of the Industrial Revolution; commercial expansion was another. England had now definitely and decisively specialized in certain industries; she could only do so by relying upon external sources for her supply of other wants. The more her new industries gave her to export, the more she required to import from customers upon whose wealth her own prosperity depended. In particular, England became dependent upon foreign producers for her food supplies. During the war the foreign supply of corn was so hampered that it was as dear to import as to grow at home; but after the peace the price began to fall, and the farmers and landlords, whose rents depended ultimately upon the price of corn, demanded protection corresponding to that which extensive tariffs on imported articles gave to the manufacturers. The manufacturers, on the other hand, wanted cheap food for their workpeople in order to be able to pay them low wages. As a compromise, the Corn Laws of 1814 and 1828 provided a sliding scale of duties which rose as prices fell, and fell as prices rose, a preference being given to colonial wheat.
The Reform Act of 1832, however, and the rapid increase of manufactures, transferred the balance of power in parliament from the landed to the manufacturing classes; factory hands were persuaded that the repeal of the duties would largely increase the value of their wages; and the failure of the potato-crop in Ireland in 1845-46 rendered an increase of imported food-stuffs imperative. Sir Robert Peel accordingly carried a measure in 1846 providing for the gradual abolition of the corn-duties, saving only a registration duty of one shilling, which was removed some twenty years later. This repeal of the Corn Laws did not appreciably affect the price of corn, the great reduction of which was subsequently effected by the vast expansion of corn-growing areas in the colonies and abroad. But it enormously increased the supply at once, and gradually gave England the full benefit of growing areas and declining prices. It is obvious that the retention of the duty, which had been fixed at 24s. 8d. in 1828 when the price was 62s. or less a quarter, would have prevented prices falling as they subsequently did below the value of the duty; and it is no less certain that it would have impeded the development of corn-growing districts in the colonies and abroad, and of British imports from, and exports to, them.
The enormous increase in the import of corn helped, in fact, to double British exports within ten years. This was the result of the general freeing of trade, of which the repeal of the Corn Laws was only a part. In the third quarter of the eighteenth century there were hundreds of Acts, covering thousands of pages, on the statute-book, imposing an infinity of chaotic duties on every kind of import; they made the customs costly to collect and easy to evade; and the industry they stimulated most was smuggling. The younger Pitt, influenced by Adam Smith, whose Wealth of Nations appeared in 1776, reduced and simplified these duties; but 443 Acts still survived when in 1825 Huskisson and other enlightened statesmen secured their consolidation and reduction to eleven. This Tariff Reform, as its supporters called it, was a step towards Free Trade. Peel gradually adopted its principles, induced partly by the failure of his efforts to use existing duties for purposes of retaliation; and between 1841 and 1846 he abolished the duties on 605 articles and reduced them on 1035 more, imposing a direct income-tax to replace the indirect taxes thus repealed. The process was completed by Gladstone, and what is called Free Trade was established as the fundamental principle of English financial policy.
This does not mean that no duties are imposed on exports or imports; it simply means that such duties as are levied are imposed for the sake of revenue, and to protect neither the consumer from the export of commodities he desires to purchase, nor the manufacturer from the import of those he wishes to make. The great interests connected with land and manufactures had ceased to hang together, and fell separately. Protection of manufactured goods did not long survive the successful attack which manufacturers had levelled against the protected produce of the landlords and the farmers. The repeal of the Navigation Acts rounded off the system; British shipping, indeed, needed no protection, but the admission of colonial goods free of duty and the removal of the embargo on their trade with foreign countries may not have compensated the colonies for the loss of their preference in the British market. The whole trend of affairs, however, both conscious and unconscious, was to make the world one vast hive of industry, instead of an infinite number of self-sufficient, separate hives; the village market had expanded into the provincial market, the provincial into the national, the national into the imperial, and the imperial into the world market.
We have not by any means exhausted the results of the Industrial Revolution, and most of our social problems may be traced directly or indirectly to this source. Its most general effect was to emphasize and exaggerate the tendency towards specialization. Not only have most workers now but one kind of work; that work becomes a smaller and smaller part of increasingly complex industrial processes; and concentration thereon makes it more and more difficult for the worker to turn to other labour, if his employment fails. The specialist's lack of all-round capacity is natural and notorious. Hence most serious results follow the slightest dislocation of national economy. This specialization has also important psychological effects. A farmer, with his varied outdoor occupations, feels little craving for relief and relaxation. The factory hand, with his attention riveted for hours at a stretch on the wearisome iteration of machinery, requires recreation and distraction: naturally he is a prey to unwholesome stimulants, such as drink, betting, or the yellow press. The more educated and morally restrained, however, seek intellectual stimulus, and the modern popular demand for culture arises largely from the need of something to relieve the grey monotony of industrial labour.
So, too, the problems of poverty, local government, and sanitation have been created or intensified by the Industrial Revolution. It made capitalists of the few and wage-earners of the many; and the tendency of wages towards a minimum and of hours of labour towards a maximum has only been counteracted by painful organization among the workers, and later on by legislation extorted by their votes. Neither the Evangelical nor the Oxford movement proved any prophylactic against the immorality of commercial and industrial creeds. While those two religious movements were at their height, new centres of industrial population were allowed to grow up without the least regard for health or decency. Under the influence of laissez-faire philosophy, each wretched slum-dweller was supposed to be capable, after his ten or twelve hours in the factory, of looking after his own and his children's education, his main-drainage, his risks from infection, and the purity of his food and his water-supply. The old system of local government was utterly inadequate and ill adapted to the new conditions; and the social and physical environment of the working classes was a disgrace to civilization pending the reconstruction of society, still incomplete, which the Industrial Revolution imposed upon the country in the nineteenth century.
A CENTURY OF EMPIRE
The British realms beyond the seas have little history before the battle of Waterloo, a date at which the Englishman's historical education has commonly come to an end; and if by chance it has gone any further, it has probably been confined to purely domestic events or to foreign episodes of such ephemeral interest as the Crimean War. It may be well, therefore, to pass lightly over these matters in order to sketch in brief outline the development of the empire and the problems which it involves. European affairs, in fact, played a very subordinate part in English history after 1815; so far as England was concerned, it was a period of excursions and alarms rather than actual hostilities; and the fortunes of English-speaking communities were not greatly affected by the revolutions and wars which made and marred continental nations, a circumstance which explains, if it does not excuse, the almost total ignorance of European history displayed in British colonies.
The interventions of Britain in continental politics were generally on behalf of the principles of nationality and self-government. Under the influence of Castlereagh and Canning the British government gradually broke away from the Holy Alliance formed to suppress all protests against the settlement reached after Napoleon's fall; and Britain interposed with decisive effect at the battle of Navarino in 1827, which secured the independence of Greece from Turkey. More diplomatic intervention assisted the South American colonies to assert their independence of the Spanish mother-country; and British volunteers helped the Liberal cause in Spain and Portugal against reactionary monarchs. Belgium was countenanced in its successful revolution against the House of Orange, and Italian states in their revolts against native and foreign despots; the expulsion of the Hapsburgs and Bourbons from Italy, and its unification on a nationalist basis, owed something to British diplomacy, which supported Cavour, and to British volunteers who fought for Garibaldi. The attitude of Britain towards the Balkan nationalities, which were endeavouring to throw off the Turkish yoke, was more dubious; while Gladstone denounced Turkish atrocities, Disraeli strengthened Turkey's hands. Yet England would have been as enthusiastic for a liberated and united Balkan power as it had been for a united Italy but for the claims of a rival liberator, Russia.
Russia was the bugbear of two generations of Englishmen; and classical scholars, who interpreted modern politics by the light of ancient Greece, saw in the absorption of Athens by Macedon a convincing demonstration of the fate which the modern barbarian of the north was to inflict upon the British heirs of Hellas. India was the real source of this nervousness. British dominion, after further wars with the Mahrattas, the Sikhs, and the Gurkhas, had extended up to the frontiers of Afghanistan; but there was always the fear lest another sword should take away dominion won by the British, and in British eyes it was an offence that any other power should expand in Asia. The Russian and British spheres of influence advanced till they met in Kabul; and for fifty years the two powers contested, by more or less diplomatic methods, the control of the Amir of Afghanistan. Turkey flanked the overland route to India; and hence the protection of Turkey against Russia became a cardinal point in British foreign policy. On behalf of Turkey's integrity Great Britain fought, in alliance with France and Sardinia, the futile Crimean War of 1854-1856, and nearly went to war in 1877.
The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 introduced a fresh complication. Relations between England and France had since Waterloo been friendly, on the whole; but France had traditional interests in Egypt, which were strengthened by the fact that a French engineer had constructed the Suez Canal, and by French colonies in the Far East, to which the canal was the shortest route. Rivalry with England for the control of Egypt followed. The Dual Control, which was established in 1876, was terminated by the refusal of France to assist in the suppression of Egyptian revolts in 1882; and Great Britain was left in sole but informal possession of power in Egypt, with the responsibility for its defence against the Mahdi (1884-1885) and for the re-conquest of the Sudan (1896-1898), which is now under the joint Egyptian and British flags.
Meanwhile, British expansion to the east of India, the Burmese wars, and annexation of Burma (1885) brought the empire into a contact with French influence in Siam similar to its contact with Russian in Afghanistan. Community of interests in the Far East, as well as the need of protection against the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria, and Italy produced the entente cordiale between France and Russia in 1890. Fortunately, the dangerous questions between them and Great Britain were settled by diplomacy, assisted by the alliance between Great Britain and Japan. The British and Russian spheres of action on the north-west, and the British and French spheres to the east, of India were delimited; southern Persia, the Persian Gulf, and the Malay Peninsula were left to British vigilance and penetration, northern Persia to Russian, and eastern Siam to French. Freed from these causes of friction, Great Britain, Russia, and France exert a restraining influence on the predominant partner in the Triple Alliance.
The development of a vast dominion in India has created for the British government problems, of which the great Indian mutiny of 1857 was merely one illustration. No power has succeeded in permanently governing subject races by despotic authority; in North and South America the natives have so dwindled in numbers as to leave the conquerors indisputably supreme; in Europe and elsewhere in former times the subject races fitted themselves for self-government, and then absorbed their conquerors. The racial and religious gulf forbids a similar solution of the Indian question, while the abandonment of her task by Great Britain would leave India a prey to anarchy. The difficulties of despotic rule were mitigated in the past by the utter absence of any common sentiments and ideas among the many races, religions, and castes which constituted India; and a Machiavellian perpetuation of these divisions might have eased the labours of its governors. But a government suffers for its virtues, and the steady efforts of Great Britain to civilize and educate its Eastern subjects have tended to destroy the divisions which made common action, common aspirations, public opinion and self-government impossible in India. The missionary, the engineer, the doctor, the lawyer, and the political reformer have all helped to remove the bars of caste and race by converting Brahmans, Mohammedans, Parsees to a common Christianity or by undermining their attachment to their particular distinctions. They have built railways and canals, which made communications and contact unavoidable; they have imposed common measures of health, common legal principles, and a common education in English culture and methods of administration. The result has been to foster a consciousness of nationality, the growth of a public opinion, and a demand for a greater share in the management of affairs. The more efficient a despotism, the more certain is its supersession; and the problem for the Indian government is how to adjust and adapt the political emancipation of the natives of India to the slow growth of their education and sense of moral responsibility. At present, caste and racial and religious differences, especially between Mohammedans and Hindus, though weakening, are powerful disintegrants; not one per cent of the population can read or write; and the existence of hundreds of native states impedes the progress of national agitation.
A somewhat similar problem confronts British administration in Egypt, where the difficulty of dealing with the agitation for national self- government is complicated by the fact that technically the British agent and consul-general is merely the informal adviser of the khedive, who is himself the viceroy of the Sultan of Turkey. Ultimately the same sort of dilemma will have to be faced in other parts of Africa under British rule—British East Africa and Uganda, the Nigerian protectorates and neighbouring districts, Rhodesia and British Central Africa—as well as in the Malay States, Hong Kong, and the West Indies. There are great differences of opinion among the white citizens of the empire with regard to the treatment of their coloured fellow-subjects. Australia and some provinces of the South African Union would exclude Indian immigrants altogether; and white minorities have an invincible repugnance to allowing black majorities to exercise a vote, except under stringent precautions against its effect. We have, indeed, improved upon the Greeks, who regarded all other races as outside the scope of Greek morality; but we do not yet extend to coloured races the same consideration that we do to white men.
So far as the white population of the empire is concerned, the problem of self-government was solved in the nineteenth century by procedure common to all the great dominions of the crown, though the emancipation, which had cost the mother-country centuries of conflict, was secured by many colonies in less than fifty years. Three normal stages marked their progress, and Canada led the way in each. The first was the acquisition of representative government—that is to say, of a legislature consisting generally of two Houses, one of which was popularly elected but had little control over the executive; the second was the acquisition of responsible government—that is to say, of an executive responsible to the popular local legislature instead of to the home Colonial Office; and the third was federation. Canada had possessed the first degree of self-government ever since 1791 (see p. 169), and was rapidly outgrowing it. Australia, however, did not pass out of the crown colony stage, in which affairs are controlled by a governor, with or without the assistance of a nominated legislative council, until 1842, when elected members were added to the council of New South Wales, and it was given the power of the purse. This development was due to the exodus of the surplus population, created by the Industrial Revolution, from Great Britain, which began soon after 1820, and affected Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Various companies and associations were founded under the influence of Lord Durham, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, and others, for the purpose of settling labourers in these lands. Between 1820 and 1830 several settlements were established in Western Australia, in 1836 South Australia was colonized, and gradually Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania were organized as independent colonies out of offshoots from the parent New South Wales. Each in turn received a representative assembly, and developed individual characteristics.
Cape Colony followed on similar lines, variegated by the presence of a rival European race, the Dutch. Slowly, in the generation which succeeded the British conquest, they accumulated grievances against their rulers. English was made the sole official language; Dutch magistrates were superseded by English commissioners; slavery was abolished, with inadequate compensation to the owners; little support was given them in their wars with the natives, which the home government and the missionaries, more interested in the woes of negroes in South Africa than in those of children in British mines and factories, attributed to Dutch brutality; and a Hottentot police was actually established. In 1837 the more determined of the Dutch "trekked" north and east to found republics in Natal, the Orange River Free State, and the Transvaal. Purged of these discontented elements, the Cape was given representative government in 1853, and Natal, which had been annexed in 1844, received a similar constitution in 1856.
Meanwhile, Canada had advanced through constitutional struggles and open rebellion to the second stage. It had received its baptism of fire during the war (1812-1814) between Great Britain and the United States, when French and British Canadians fought side by side against a common enemy. But both provinces soon experienced difficulties similar to those between the Stuarts and their parliaments; their legislative assemblies had no control over their executive governments, and in 1837 Papineau's rebellion broke out in Lower, and Mackenzie's in Upper, Canada. Lord Durham was sent out to investigate the causes of discontent, and his report marks an epoch in colonial history. The idea that the American War of Independence had taught the mother-country the necessity of granting complete self-government to her colonies is a persistent misconception; and hitherto no British colony had received a fuller measure of self-government than had been enjoyed by the American colonies before their Declaration of Independence. The grant of this responsible self-government was one of the two principal recommendations of Lord Durham's report. The other was the union of the two provinces, which, it was hoped, would give the British a majority over the French. This recommendation, which ultimately proved unworkable, was carried out at once; the other, which has been the saving of the empire, was left for Lord Elgin to elaborate. He made it a principle to choose as ministers only those politicians who possessed the confidence of the popular assembly, and his example, followed by his successors, crystallized into a fundamental maxim of British colonial government. It was extended to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 1848, and to Newfoundland (which had in 1832 received a legislative assembly) in 1855.
To Lord John Russell, who was prime minister from 1846 to 1851, to his colonial secretary, the third Earl Grey, and to Lords Aberdeen and Palmerston, who succeeded as premiers in 1852 and 1855, belongs the credit of having conferred full rights of self-government on most of the empire's oversea dominions. Australia, where the discovery of gold in 1851 added enormously to her population, soon followed in Canada's wake, and by 1856 every Australian colony, with the exception of Western Australia, had, with the consent of the Imperial parliament, worked out a constitution for itself, comprising two legislative chambers and a responsible cabinet. New Zealand, which had begun to be sparsely settled between 1820 and 1840, and had been annexed in the latter year, received in 1852 from the Imperial parliament a Constitution Act, which left it to Sir George Grey, the Governor, to work out in practice the responsibility of ministers to the legislature. Other colonies were slower in their constitutional development; Cape Colony was not granted a responsible administration till 1872; Western Australia, which had continued to receive convicts after their transportation to other Australian colonies had been successfully resisted, did not receive complete self-government till 1890, and Natal not until 1893.
The latest British colonies to receive this livery of the empire were the Transvaal and the Orange River colonies. A chequered existence had been their fate since their founders had trekked north in 1837. The Orange River Free State had been annexed by Britain in 1848, had rebelled, and been granted independence again in 1854. The Transvaal had been annexed in 1877, had rebelled, and had been granted almost complete independence again after Majuba in 1881. The Orange Free State, relieved of the diamond fields which belonged to it in the neighbourhood of Kimberley in 1870, pursued the even tenor of its way; but the gold mines discovered in the Transvaal were not so near its borders, and gave rise to more prolonged dissensions. Crowds of cosmopolitan adventurers, as lawless as those who disturbed the peace in Victoria or California, flocked to the Rand. They were not of the stuff of which Dutch burghers were made, and the franchise was denied them by a government which did not hesitate to profit from their labours. The Jameson Raid, a hasty attempt to use their wrongs to overthrow President Kruger's government in 1895, "upset the apple-cart" of Cecil Rhodes, the prime minister of the Cape, who had added Rhodesia to the empire and was planning, with moderate Dutch support, to federate South Africa. Kruger hardened his heart against the Uitlanders, and armed himself to resist the arguments of the British government on their behalf. Both sides underestimated the determination and resources of the other. But Kruger was more ignorant, if not more obstinate, than Mr. Chamberlain; and his ultimatum of October 1899 precipitated a war which lasted two years and a half, and cost the two republics their independence. The Transvaal was given, and the Orange River Colony was promised, representative government by the Conservatives; but the Liberals, who came into power at the end of 1905, excused them this apprenticeship, and granted them full responsible government in 1906-1907.
British colonies have tried a series of useful experiments with the power thus allotted them of managing their own affairs, and have contributed more to the science of politics than all the arm-chair philosophers from Aristotle downwards; and an examination in their results would be a valuable test for aspiring politicians and civil servants. The Canadian provinces, with two exceptions, dispense with a second chamber; elsewhere in the empire, second chambers are universal, but nowhere outside the United Kingdom hereditary. Their members are either nominated by the prime minister for life, as in the Dominion of Canada, or for a term of years, which is fixed at seven in New Zealand; or they are popularly elected, sometimes on a different property qualification from the Lower House, sometimes for a different period, sometimes by a different constituency. In the Commonwealth of Australia they are chosen by each state voting as a whole, and this method, by which a big majority in one locality outweighs several small majorities in others, has sometimes resulted in making the Upper House more radical and socialistic than the Lower; the system of nomination occasionally has in Canada a result equally strange to English ideas, for the present Conservative majority in the House of Commons is confronted with a hostile Liberal majority in the Upper House, placed there by Sir Wilfrid Laurier during his long tenure of office. The most effective provision against deadlocks between the two Houses is one in the constitution of the Australian Commonwealth, by which, if they cannot agree, both are dissolved.
Other contrasts are more bewildering than instructive. In Canada the movement for women's suffrage has made little headway, and even less in South Africa; but at the Antipodes women share with men the privilege of adult suffrage in New Zealand, in the Commonwealth of Australia, and in every one of its component states; an advocate of the cause would perhaps explain the contrast by the presence of unprogressive French in Canada, and of unprogressive Dutch in South Africa. Certainly, the all- British dominions have been more advanced in their political experiments than those in which the flighty Anglo-Saxon has been tempered by more stolid elements; and the pendulum swings little more in French Canada than it does in Celtic Ireland. In New Zealand old age pensions were in force long before they were introduced into the mother-country; and compulsory arbitration in industrial disputes, payment of M.P.'s, and powers of local option and prohibition have been for years in operation. Both the Dominion and the Commonwealth levy taxes on land far exceeding those imposed by the British budget of 1909. Australia is, in addition, trying a socialistic labour ministry and compulsory military training. It has also tried the more serious experiment of developing a standard of comfort among its proletariate before peopling the country; and is consequently forced to exclude by legislation all sorts of cheap labour, which might develop its industries but would certainly lower its level of wages. It believes in high protection, but takes care by socialistic legislation that high wages shall more than counterbalance high prices; protection is to it merely the form of state socialism which primarily benefits the employer. It has also nationalized its railways and denationalized all churches and religious instruction in public schools. There is, indeed, no state church in the empire outside Great Britain. But the most significant, perhaps, of Antipodean notions is the doctrine, inculcated in the Queensland elementary schools, of the sanctity of state property.
Finally, the colonies have made momentous experiments in federation. New Zealand's was the earliest and the briefest; after a few years' experience of provincial governments between 1852 and 1870, it reduced its provincial parliaments to the level of county councils, and adopted a unitary constitution. In Canada, on the other hand, the union of the Upper and Lower Provinces proved unworkable owing to racial differences; and in 1867 the federation called the Dominion of Canada was formed by agreement between Upper and Lower Canada (henceforth called Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Prince Edward Island and British Columbia joined soon afterwards; and fresh provinces have since been created out of the Hudson Bay and North-west Territories; Newfoundland alone has stood aloof. Considerable powers are allotted to the provinces, including education; but the distinguishing feature of this federation is that all powers not definitely assigned by the Dominion Act to the provinces belong to the Dominion. This is in sharp contrast to the United States, where each individual state is the sovereign body, and the Federal government only possesses such powers as the states have delegated to it by the constitution.
In this respect the Australian federation called the Commonwealth, which was formed in 1900, resembles the United States rather than Canada. The circumstance that each Australian colony grew up round a seaport, having little or no overland connexion with other Australian colonies, kept them long apart; and the commercial interests centred in these ports are still centrifugal rather than centripetal in sentiment. Hence powers, not specifically assigned to the Federal government, remain in the hands of the individual states; the Labour party, however, inclines towards a centralizing policy, and the general trend seems to be in that direction. It will probably be strengthened by the construction of transcontinental railways and by a further growth of the nationalist feeling of Australia, which is already marked.
The Union of South Africa, formed in 1909, soon after the Boer colonies had received self-government, went almost as far towards unification as New Zealand, and became a unitary state rather than a federation. The greater expense of maintaining several local parliaments as well as a central legislature, and the difficulty of apportioning their powers, determined South African statesmen to sweep away the old legislatures altogether, and to establish a united parliament which meets at Cape Town, a single executive which has its offices at Pretoria, and a judicature which is located at Bloemfontein. Thus almost every variety of Union and Home Rule exists within the empire, and arguments from analogy are provided for both the British political parties.
Two extremes have been, and must be, avoided. History has falsified the impression prevalent in the middle of the nineteenth century that the colonies would sooner or later follow the example of the United States, and sever their connexion with the mother-country. It has no less clearly demonstrated the impossibility of maintaining a centralized government of the empire in Downing Street. The union or federation of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa has strengthened the claims of each of those imperial realms to be considered a nation, with full rights and powers of self-government; and it remains to be seen whether the federating process can be carried to a higher level, and imperial sentiment crystallized in Imperial Federation. Imperial Conferences have become regular, but we may not call them councils; no majority in them has power to bind a minority, and no conference can bind the mother-country or a single dominion of the crown. As an educational body the Imperial Conference is excellent; but no one would venture to give powers of taxation or of making war and peace to a conclave in which Great Britain, with its forty-four millions of people and the navy and army it supports, has no more votes than Newfoundland, with its quarter of a million of inhabitants and immunity from imperial burdens.
Education is, however, at the root of all political systems. Where the mass of the people know nothing of politics, a despotism is essential; where only the few are politically educated, there needs must be an aristocracy. Great Britain lost its American colonies largely through ignorance; and no imperial organization could arise among a group of states ignorant of each other's needs, resources, and aspirations. The Imperial Conference is not to be judged by its meagre tangible results; if it has led British politicians to appreciate the varying character and depth of national feeling in the Dominions, and politicians oversea to appreciate the delicacies of the European diplomatic situation, the dependence of every part of the empire upon sea-power, and the complexities of an Imperial government which has also to consider the interests of hundreds of millions of subjects in India, in tropical Africa, in the West Indies, and in the Pacific, the Conference will have helped to foster the intellectual conditions which must underlie any attempt at an imperial superstructure.
For the halcyon days of peace, prosperity, and progress can hardly be assumed as yet, and not even the most distant and self-contained Dominions can afford to ignore the menace of blood and iron. No power, indeed, is likely to find the thousand millions or so which it would cost to conquer and hold Canada, Australia, or South Africa; but a lucky raid on their commerce or some undefended port might cost many millions by way of ransom. A slackening birth-rate is, moreover, a reminder that empires in the past, like that of Rome, have civilized themselves out of existence in the competition with races which bred with primitive vigour, and had no costly standards of comfort. There are such races to-day; the slumbering East has wakened, and the tide which flowed for four centuries from West to East is on the turn. The victory of Japan over Russia was an event beside which the great Boer War sinks into insignificance. Asiatics, relieved by the Pax Britannica from mutual destruction, are eating the whites out of the islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and threatening South Africa, Australia, and the western shores of America. No armaments and no treaties of arbitration can ward off their economic competition; and it is not certain that their myriads, armed with Western morality and methods of warfare, will be always content to refrain from turning against Europe the means of expansion which Europe has used with so much success against them. The British Empire will need all the wisdom it can command, if it is to hold its own in the parliament of reason or the arbitrament of war.
The modern national state is the most powerful political organism ever known, because it is the conscious or unconscious agency of a people's will. Government is no longer in England the instrument of a family or a class; and the only real check upon its power is the circumstance that in some matters it acts as the executive committee of one party and is legitimately resisted by the other. Were there no parties, the government would be a popular despotism absolutely uncontrolled. Theoretically it is omnicompetent; parliament—or, to use more technical phraseology, the Crown in Parliament—can make anything law that it chooses; and no one has a legal right to resist, or authority to pronounce what parliament has done to be unconstitutional. No Act of Parliament can be illegal or unconstitutional, because there are no fundamental laws and no written constitution in this country; and when people loosely speak of an Act being unconstitutional, all that they mean is that they do not agree with it. Other countries, like the United States, have drawn up a written constitution and established a Supreme Court of Judicature to guard it; and if the American legislature violates this constitution by any Act, the Supreme Court may declare that Act unconstitutional, in which case it is void. But there is no such limitation in England upon the sovereignty of parliament.
This sovereignty has been gradually evolved. At first it was royal and personal, but not parliamentary or representative; and medieval kings had to struggle with the rival claims of the barons and the church. By calling in the assistance of the people assembled and represented in parliament, the monarchy triumphed over both the barons and the church; but when, in the seventeenth century, the two partners to this victory quarrelled over the spoils, parliament and not the crown established its claim to be the real representative of the state; and in the cases of Strafford, Danby, and others it even asserted that loyalty to the king might be treason to the state. The church, vanquished at the Reformation, dropped more and more out of the struggle for sovereignty, because, while the state grew more comprehensive, the church grew more exclusive. It was not that, after 1662, it seriously narrowed its formulas or doctrines, but it failed to enlarge them, and a larger and larger proportion of Englishmen thus found themselves outside its pale. The state, on the other hand, embraced an ever-widening circle of dissent; and by degrees Protestant Nonconformists, Roman Catholics, Quakers, Jews, Atheists, Mohammedans, believers, misbelievers, and unbelievers of all sorts, were admitted to the fullest rights of citizenship. State and church ceased to correspond; one became the whole, the other only a part, and there could be no serious rivalry between the two.
The state had to contend, however, with more subtle and serious attacks. This great Leviathan, as Hobbes called it, was not at first a popular institution; and it frightened many people. The American colonists, for instance, thought that its absolute sovereignty was too dangerous a thing to be left loose, and they put sovereignty under a triple lock and key, giving one to the judicature, one to the legislature, and a third to the executive. Only by the co-operation of these three keepers can the American people loose their sovereignty and use it to amend their constitution; and so jealously is sovereignty confined that anarchy often seems to reign in its stead. There was, indeed, some excuse for distrusting a sovereignty claimed by George III and the unreformed British parliament; and it was natural enough that people should deny its necessity and set up in its place Declarations of the Rights of Man. Sovereignty of Hobbes's type was a somewhat novel conception; men had not grasped its possibilities as an engine of popular will, because they were only familiar with its exploitation by kings and oligarchs; and so closely did they identify the thing with its abuses that they preferred to do without it altogether, or at least to confine it to the narrowest possible limits. Government and the people were antagonistic: the less government there was, the less harm would be done to the people, and so a general body of individualistic, laissez-faire theory developed, which was expressed in various Declarations of the Rights of Man, and set up against the "paternal despotism" of the eighteenth century.
These Rights of Man helped to produce alike the anarchy of the first French Revolution and the remedial despotism of the Jacobins and their successor Napoleon; and the oscillation between under-government and over-government, between individualism and socialism has continued to this day. Each coincides with obvious human interests: the blessed in possession prefer a policy of laissez faire; they are all for Liberty and Property, enjoying sufficient means for doing whatsoever they like with what they are pleased to call their own. But those who have little to call their own, and much that they would like, prefer strong government if they can control it; and the strength of government has steadily grown with popular control. This is due to more than a predatory instinct; it is natural, and excusable enough, that people should be reluctant to maintain what is no affair of theirs; but even staunch Conservatives have been known to pay Radical taxes with comparative cheerfulness when their party has returned to power.
Government was gradually made the affair of the people by the series of Reform Acts extending from 1832 to 1885; and it is no mere accident that this half-century also witnessed the political emancipation of the British colonies. Nor must we forget the Acts beginning with the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts (1828) and Roman Catholic Emancipation (1829), which extended political rights to men of all religious persuasions. These and the Franchise Acts made the House of Commons infinitely more representative than it had been before, and gave it its conclusive superiority over the House of Lords. Not that the Peers represent no one but themselves; had that been true, the House of Lords would have disappeared long ago. In reality it came to embody a fairly complete representation of the Conservative party; and as a party does not need two legislative organs, the House of Lords retired whenever the Conservatives controlled the House of Commons, and only resumed its proper functions when the Liberals had a majority. Hence its most indefensible characteristic as a Second Chamber became its strongest practical bulwark; for it enlisted the support of many who had no particular views about Second Chambers in the abstract, but were keenly interested in the predominance of their party.
The restraint thus imposed by the House of Lords upon popular government checked the development of its power and the extension of its activity, which would naturally have followed upon the acquisition by the people of control over the House of Commons and indirectly over the Cabinet. Other causes co-operated to induce delay. The most powerful was lack of popular education; constitutional privileges are of no value to people who do not understand how they may be used, or are so unimaginative and ill-disciplined as to prefer such immediate and tangible rewards as a half-crown for their vote, a donation to their football club or local charity, or a gracious word from an interested lady, to their distant and infinitesimal share in the direction of national government. This participation is, in fact, so minute to the individual voter and so intangible in its operation, that a high degree of education is required to appreciate its value; and the Education Acts of 1870 and 1889 were indispensable preliminaries to anything like a real democracy. A democracy really educated in politics will express views strange to our ears with an emphasis of which even yet we have little conception.
Other obstacles to the overthrow of the rule of laissez faire were the vested interests of over-mighty manufacturers and landlords in the maintenance of that anarchy which is the logical extreme of Liberty and Property; and such elementary measures of humanity as the Factory Acts were long resisted by men so humane as Cobden and John Bright as arbitrary interventions with the natural liberty of man to drive bargains with his fellows in search of a living wage. There seemed to be no idea that economic warfare might be quite as degrading as that primitive condition of natural war, in which Hobbes said that the life of man was "nasty, short, brutish and mean," and that it might as urgently require a similar sovereign remedy. The repugnance to such a remedy was reinforced by crude analogies between a perverted Darwinism and politics. Darwin's demonstration of evolution by means of the struggle for existence in the natural world was used to support the assumption that a similar struggle among civilized men was natural and therefore inevitable; and that all attempts to interfere with the conflict between the weak and the strong, the scrupulous and the unscrupulous, were foredoomed to disastrous failure. It was forgotten that civilization itself involves a more or less conscious repeal of "Nature," and that the progress of man depends upon the conquest of himself and of his surroundings. In a better sense of the word, the evolution of man's self-control and conscience is just as "natural" as the gratification of his animal instincts.
The view that each individual should be left without further help from the state to cope with his environment might be acceptable to landlords who had already obtained from parliament hundreds of Inclosure Acts, and to manufacturers whose profits were inflated by laws making it criminal for workmen to combine. They might rest from political agitation and be thankful for their constitutional gains; at any rate they had little to hope from a legislature in which working men had votes. But the masses, who had just secured the franchise, were reluctant to believe that the action of the state had lost its virtue at the moment when the control of the state came within their grasp. The vote seems to have been given them under the amiable delusion that they would be happy when they got it, as if it had any value whatever except as a means to an end. Nor is it adequate as a means: it is not sufficient for a nation by adult suffrage to express its will; that will has also to be carried into execution, and it requires a strong executive to do so. Hence the reversal of the old Liberal attitude towards the royal prerogative, which may be best dated from 1872, when Gladstone abolished the purchase of commissions in the army by means of the royal prerogative, after the proposed reform had been rejected as a bill by the House of Lords. No Liberal is likely in the future to suggest that "the influence of the crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished"; because the prerogative of the crown has become the privilege of the people.
The Franchise Acts had apparently provided a solution of the old antithesis of Man versus the State by comprehending all men in the state; and the great value of those reforms was that they tended to eliminate force from the sphere of politics. When men could vote, there was less reason in rebellion; and the antithesis of Man versus the State has almost been reduced to one of Woman versus the State. But representative government, which promised to be ideal when every man, or every adult, had a vote, is threatened in various quarters. Its operations are too deliberate and involved to satisfy impatient spirits, and three alternative methods of procedure are advocated as improvements upon it. One is the "direct action" of working men, by which they can speedily obtain their objects through a general or partial strike paralyzing the food supply or other national necessities. This is obviously a dangerous and double-edged weapon, the adoption of which by other sections of the community—the Army and Navy, for instance, or the medical profession—might mean national dissolution.
Another method is the Referendum, by which important decisions adopted by parliament would be referred to a direct popular vote. This proposal is only logical when coupled with the Initiative, by which a direct popular vote could compel parliament to pass any measure desired by the majority of voters; otherwise its object is merely obstructive. The third method is the supersession of parliament by the action of the executive. The difficulties which Liberal measures have experienced in the House of Lords, and the impossibility of the House of Commons dealing by debate with the increasing complexities of national business, have encouraged a tendency in Liberal governments to entrust to their departments decisions which trench upon the legislative functions of parliament. The trend of hostile opinion is to regard parliament as an unnecessary middleman, and to advocate in its stead a sort of plebiscitary bureaucracy, a constitution under which legislation drafted by officials would be demanded, sanctioned, or rejected by direct popular vote, and would be discussed, like the Insurance Bill, in informal conferences outside, rather than inside, parliament; while administration by a vast army of experts would be partially controlled by popularly elected ministers; for socialists waver between their faith in human equality and their trust in the superman. Others think that the milder method of Devolution, or "Home Rule all round," would meet the evils caused by the congestion of business, and restore to the Mother of Parliaments her time-honoured function of governing by debate.
Parliament has already had to delegate legislative powers to other bodies than colonial legislatures; and county councils, borough councils, district councils, and parish councils share with it in various degrees the task of legislating for the country. They can, of course, only legislate, as they can only administer, within the limits imposed by Act of Parliament; but their development, like the multiplication of central administrative departments, indicates the latest, but not the final, stages in the growth and specialization of English government. A century and a half ago two Secretaries of State were all that Great Britain required; now there are half-a-dozen, and a dozen other departments have been added. Among them are the Local Government Board, the Board of Education, the Board of Trade, the Board of Agriculture, while many sub-departments such as the Public Health Department of the Local Government Board, the Bankruptcy Department of the Board of Trade, and the Factory Department of the Home Office, have more work to do than originally had a Secretary of State. It is probable, moreover, that departments will multiply and subdivide at an ever-increasing rate.
All this, however, is merely machinery provided to give effect to public opinion, which determines the use to which it shall be put. But its very provision indicates that England expects the state to-day to do more and more extensive duty for the individual. For one thing the state has largely taken the place of the church as the organ of the collective conscience of the community. It can hardly be said that the Anglican church has an articulate conscience apart from questions of canon law and ecclesiastical property; and other churches are, as bodies, no better provided with creeds of social morality. The Eighth Commandment is never applied to such genteel delinquencies as making a false return of income, or defrauding a railway company or the customs; but is reserved for the grosser offences which no member of the congregation is likely to have committed; and it is left to the state to provide by warning and penalty against neglect of one's duty to one's neighbour when one's neighbour is not one individual but the sum of all. It was not by any ecclesiastical agitation that some humanity was introduced into the criminal code in the third decade of the nineteenth century; and the protest against the blind cruelty of economic laissez faire was made by Sadler, Shaftesbury, Ruskin, and Carlyle rather than by any church. Their writings and speeches awoke a conscience in the state, which began to insist by means of legislation upon humaner hours and conditions of labour, upon decent sanitation, upon a standard of public education, and upon provision being made against fraudulent dealings with more helpless fellow-men.
This public conscience has inevitably proved expensive, and the expense has had to be borne either by the state or by the individual. Now, it might have been possible, when the expense of these new standards of public health and comfort began to be incurred, to provide by an heroic effort of socialism for a perpetuation of the individualistic basis of social duty. That is to say, if the state had guaranteed to every individual an income which would enable him to bear his share of this expense, it might also have imposed upon him the duty of meeting it, of paying fees for the education of his children, for hospital treatment, for medical inspection, and so forth. But that effort was not, and perhaps could not, in the existing condition of public opinion, be made; and the state has therefore got into the habit of providing and paying for all these things itself. When the majority of male adults earn twenty shillings or less a week, and possess a vote, there would be no raising of standards at all, if they had to pay the cost. Hence the state has been compelled step by step to meet the expense of burdens imposed by its conscience. Free education has therefore followed compulsory education; the demands of sanitary inspectors and medical officers of health have led to free medical inspection, medical treatment, the feeding of necessitous school children, and other piecemeal socialism; and, ignoring the historical causes of this development, we are embarked on a wordy warfare of socialists and individualists as to the abstract merits of antagonistic theories.
It is mainly a battle of phrases, in which few pause to examine what their opponents or they themselves mean by the epithets they employ. In the sense in which the individualist uses the term socialist, there are hardly any socialists, and in the sense in which the socialist uses the term individualist, there are practically no individualists. In reality we are all both individualists and socialists. It is a question of degree and not of dogma; and most people are at heart agreed that some economic socialism is required in order to promote a certain amount of moral and intellectual individualism. The defect of so-called economic individualism is that it reduces the mass of workers to one dead level of common poverty, in which wages, instead of increasing like capital, barely keep pace with the rise of rent and prices, in which men occupy dwellings all alike in the same mean streets, pursuing the same routine of labour and same trivial round of relaxation, and in which there seems no possibility of securing for the individual adequate opportunities for that development of his individuality by which alone he can render his best service to the community.
That service is the common end and object towards which men of all parties in English history have striven through the growth of conscious and collective action. A communist has maintained that we are all communists because we have developed a common army, a common navy, and a common national government, in place of the individualistic forces and jurisdictions of feudal barons. We have, indeed, nationalized these things and many others as well, including the crown, the church, the administration of justice, education, highways and byways, posts and telegraphs, woods and forests. Even the House of Lords has been constrained to abandon its independence by a process akin to that medieval peine forte et dure, by which the obstinate individualist was, when accused, compelled to surrender his ancient immunity and submit to the common law; and this common control, which came into being as the nation emerged out of its diverse elements in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and slowly gathered force as it realized its strength under the Tudors, has attained fresh momentum in the latest ages as the state step by step extended to all sorts and conditions of men a share in the exercise of its power.
This is the real English conquest, and it forms the chief content of English history. It is part of the triumph of man over the forces of nature and over himself, and the two have gone hand in hand. An English state could hardly exist before men had made roads, but it could no more exist until they had achieved that great victory of civilized government by which a minority agrees for the sake of peace to submit to the greater number. Steam and railways and telegraphs have placed further powers in the hands of men; they have conquered the land and the sea and the air; and medical science has built up their physique and paved the way for empire in tropical climes. But while he has conquered nature, man has also conquered himself. He has tamed his combative instincts; he has reduced civil strife to political combats, restrained national conflicts by treaties of arbitration, and subdued private wars to judicial proceedings; it is only in partially civilized countries that gentlemen cannot rule their temper or bend their honour to the base arbitrament of justice. He looks before and after, and forgoes the gratification of the present to insure against the accidents of the future, though the extent to which the community as a whole can follow the example of individuals in this respect remains at the moment a test of its self-control and sense of collective responsibility.
Whether this growth of power in the individual and in the state is a good or an evil thing depends on the conscience of those who wield it. The power of the over-mighty subject has generally been a tyranny; and all power is distrusted by old-fashioned Liberals and philosophic Anarchists, because they have a traditional suspicion that it will fall into hostile or unscrupulous hands. But the forces of evil cannot be overcome by laissez faire, and power is an indispensable weapon of progress. A powerless state means a helpless community; and anarchy is the worst of all forms of tyranny, because it is irresponsible, incorrigible, and capricious. Weakness, moreover, is the parent of panic, and panic brings cruelty in its train. So long as the state was weak, it was cruel; and the hideous treason-laws of Tudor times were due to fear. The weak cannot afford to be tolerant any more than the poor can afford to be generous. Cecil thought that the state could not afford to tolerate two forms of religion; to-day it tolerates hundreds, and it laughs at treason because it is strong. We are humanitarian, not because we are so much better than our ancestors, but because we can afford the luxury of dissent and conscientious objections so much better than they could. Political liberty and religious freedom depend upon the power of the state, inspired, controlled, and guided by the mind of the community.
Last of all, through this power man has acquired faith, not in miraculous intervention, but in his capacity to work out his own destinies by means of the weapons placed in his hands and the dominion put under his feet. He no longer believes that the weakest must go to the wall, and the helpless be trampled under foot in the march of civilization; nature is no longer a mass of inscrutable, iron decrees, but a treasury of forces to be tamed and used in the redemption of mankind by man; and mankind is no longer a mob of blind victims to panic and passion, but a more or less orderly host marching on to more or less definite goals. The individual, however, can do little by himself; he needs the strength of union for his herculean tasks; and he has found that union in the state. It is not an engine of tyranny, but the lever of social morality; and the function of English government is not merely to embody the organized might and the executive brain of England, but also to enforce its collective and coordinating conscience.
B.C. 55. Julius Caesar's first invasion of Britain. A.D. 43-110. Roman occupation of Britain. 410-577. Period of Anglo-Saxon colonization and conquest. 597-664. Conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. 617-685. Northumbrian supremacy. 685-825. Mercian supremacy. 8O2-839. Ecgberht establishes West Saxon supremacy. 855. Danes first winter in England. 878. Peace of Wedmore between Alfred and the Danes. 900 (?). Death of Alfred. 9OO (?)-975. Edward the Elder, Athelstan, and Edgar. Reconquest of the Danelaw. 978-1013. Ethelred the Unready. Return of the Danes. 1016. Edmund Ironside. 1016-1035. Canute. 1042.-1060. Edward the Confessor and the growth of Norman Influence. 1066. Harold and the Battle of Hastings. WILLIAM I. 1066-1071. The Norman Conquest. Submergence of the Anglo-Saxons. 1085-1086. Domesday Book. The Salisbury Oath. 1087-1100. WILLIAM II. 1100-1135. HENRY I and the beginnings of an administrative system. The Exchequer and Curia Regis. 1135-1154. STEPHEN and Matilda. The period of baronial independence, i.e. anarchy. 1154-1189. HENRY II restores order, curbs the military power of the barons by scutage (1159), the Assize of Arms (1181), and the substitution of sworn inquest for the ordeal and trial by battle, and their jurisdiction by the development of the royal court of justice through assizes of Clarendon, Northampton, etc. Teaches the people to rely on their judgment. Restrains the sheriffs, and attempts to limit ecclesiastical jurisdiction by the constitutions of Clarendon (1164). Quarrel with Becket. 1189-1199. RICHARD I. Crusade and wars In France. 1199-1210. JOHN'S tyranny. Loss of Normandy (1204). Quarrel with the church and baronage. Tries to retrieve his position by spirited foreign policy. Defeated at Bouvines (1214) and forced to sign Magna Carta (1215). 1216-1272. HENRY III. Beginnings of national government under De Burgh. Naval victory (1217). Alien domination of Henry's favourites provokes baronial resistance. Growth of native wealth and influence, and of an English party in the Barons' War (1258- 1265). Simon De Montfort. Townsfolk summoned to Parliament. 1272-1307. EDWARD I, the first English king since the Norman Conquest. Emergence of the English people, their language, national weapons, towns, commerce. The Model Parliament(1275, 1295). Confirmation of the charters(1297). National resistance to the Papacy, and national enterprises against Wales and Scotland. 1307-1327. EDWARD II. The relapse of Monarchy. Baronage becoming peerage. Thomas of Lancaster. 1327-1377. EDWARD III. Growth of nationalism in religion, politics, literature, trade, and war. The Commons take the constitutional lead abandoned by the peers. Lollardy and hostility to the Papacy. Decay of manorial system: emancipation of villeins: growth of industry and towns. 1377-1399. RICHARD II, Revolt of the peasants and artisans (1381). Tries to emancipate himself from the control of the peers, and is deposed. 1399-1413. HENRY IV and the Lancastrian dynasty. Revolt of the Percies (1403). Henry's troubles with over-mighty subjects. 1413-1422. HENRY V seeks escape from domestic troubles in foreign war. 1415. Battle of Agincourt. Treaty of Troyes (1420). 1422. HENRY VI. Rivalry between Beaufort and Gloucester leads to growth of Lancastrian and Yorkist factions, and these with local anarchy produce the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485). 1461. EDWARD IV secures the throne, and in 1471 defeats both the Lancastrians and Warwick the King-maker. 1483. RICHARD III. 1485. HENRY VII and the House of Tudor. 1487. Organization of the Star Chamber to repress disorder and over- mighty subjects. Diaz doubles the Cape of Good Hope. 1492. Columbus discovers West Indies. 1496-1497. Cabot discovers Newfoundland and Labrador. 1509. HENRY VIII. 1512-1529. Wolsey. 1529-1536. The Reformation Parliament. The submission of the Clergy, Acts of Annates, Appeals (1532-1533) and Supremacy (1534). 1536. Suppression of the Monasteries and Pilgrimage for Grace. 1539. Act of Six Articles. 1547-1553. EDWARD VI and the Protestant Reformation. 1549. First Act of Uniformity and Book of Common Prayer. Kett's rebellion. 1552. Second Act of Uniformity