Edward E. Morris, Imperial Federation: A Lecture (Melbourne, 1885)










Republished from the Victorian Review.



A VERY natural distrust is generally felt of the interference of pro-
fessors in matters political. Germany is the land of professors, and
there this distrust has been expressed in his own emphatic manner
by Prince Bismarck, whose polities nowadays it seems the fashion
for Englishmen to admire. The ground of the distrust is not far to
seek. As a rule, professors are theorists who have not enjoyed oppor-
tunities of practical political life, and as, in our English way, we usually
sever theory from practice, instead of regarding the latter as the
fruit of the former, we naturally think but little of those who can
concern themselves chiefly with theory. Moreover, it is advisable
that, as a rule, those who teach should not mix themselves up in
petty politics, and this for reasons so obvious that it is not necessary
to dwell on them; and it is difficult, all will allow. to remain in the
loftier regions and serener air of political theory without an occasional
descent into party strife. The question with which I am to deal
is not yet a matter of petty politics, and, as it cuts across the
lines of existing parties, we my fervently hope that it may never
fall a prey to them. Political in the highest sense it of course is,
being intimately connected with the well-being of the State; but, not
yet having come within the range of practical politics it is not discussed
at electoral meetings, and neither gains nor loses votes. At such an
early date in the history of a question it seems not inconvenient that
it should be discussed from a theoretical point of view. As yet, the
professors have to a large extent marked it as their own. There was
Professor Goldwin Smith at Oxford, Regius Professor of History,
who enunciated and set forth in his most able way the view that an


empire was a mistake, and that both colonies and Mother Country
would gain when an unnatural tie ceased to bind them together.
Long residence in Canada has not changed his opinion. The book
that has done more than any other writings or speeches to gain a
hearing for the contrary view is the ‘Expansion of England,’ by the
Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge. Then, again,
Mr. Freeman, a recent addition to the ranks of professors, though
long known as, on historical questions, a writer second to none, has
continued the Oxford tradition by combating Professor Seeley’s
View; and Mr. Freeman is an ally whose help we should have
valued, for he is the author of a History of Federal Governments,
the first volume of which he published 22 years ago, promising the
second, on the German and Swiss leagues, ‘with all convenient speed.’
He is, however, probably waiting to include the new British Fede-
ration, and has therefore a while delayed the second volume. Though
Oxford owns my allegiance, I cannot help the feeling that Cambridge
rather than Oxford, Seeley rather than Freeman, maintains the
higher and the more patriotic view. ‘The Expansion of England’
in presumably well known to all students of history. Those who do
not know it should lose no time in reading it. It may be described
as an epoch-making book: it sets minds thinking upon the colonial
relations. The work of the Federation League should be to throw
its arguments into popular form, and to spread the knowledge of
them. That is the way to make them triumph.

There are grave reasons why a man should hesitate before pro-
nouncing an opinion on this question. Most of the supporters of
Imperial Federation have hitherto indulged in very vague
generalities. Mr. Forster is reported to have said that “they are
enemies of Imperial union who imagine schemes by which it might
be brought about.” The Victorian branch of the league weds itself
to no scheme, and will have nothing to do with ways and means to
effect its object. At present we are only to accustom ourselves to the
idea of closer union, and to wish for it ardently, when some day we
shall find ourselves ripe for its accomplishment. This promised land
seems just a little indefinite. How are people in be induced to wish,
when it is not exactly known what they are to wish for? Much de-
pends upon the very details that are withheld. What under certain
conditions we might earnestly desire, failing those conditions we
might decline to have at any price. And whilst the friends of Federa-
tion are thus backward, its opponents are high in place and strong
in the influence which a man gains who has long helped to rule or


to advise his fellows. Many of the older statesmen seem to be op-
posed even to the idea. The view which Mr. Froude, when in Mel-
bourne, attributed to Mr. Gladstone, that England would do better
without colonies, has not been, and from its very nature never could be,
uttered publicly; but it, or something like it. certainly was the
prevailing view a little while ago. Lord Beaconsfield held it as well
as his great antagonist; and the indoor statesmen of experience,
such as Lord Blanchford and Sir Henry Taylor. concur with the
great Parliamentary leaders. This fact should not be permitted to
discourage us. It is natural that men should hold the views in which
they have been brought up, and believe in the principles on which
they have always acted. The lessons of the great American War,
the wiser teaching about that war that has prevailed since the time
of Lord North, the difficulties in connection with the establishment
and working of the colonial constitutions, the doctrines of Mr.
Goldwin Smith, these are now an old story. whereas the view that
the colonies can be kept in continual union with the Mother Country
is comparatively new. A quarter of a century ago the colonies con-
tained a much smaller population than they do now, and filled a
much less important place in the public mind. The theorists who
considered their future came to the conclusion that the example of
the United States would one day be followed, and almost every
statesman felt, if he would not have avowed, that as the colonies were
sure to separate, the duty of Government was to prepare them in
all possible ways for their independent existence. That _was_ the
view, but is not now. Moreover, it is quite certain that it the
colonies as a whole, or any considerable group of them, were to wish
to be separate, England would resort to no means stronger than per-
suasion. As we read the history of the great American War, what
strikes us most is the folly of Lord North’s obstinacy and of his
master’s. How could they have dreamt that they would ever suc-
ceed? They must have been ignorant of the spirit against which
they were contending; and in the present day such ignorance is
simply impossible. Full intelligence rapidly transmitted by tele-
graph, or by letters of correspondents, would soon dispel illusions.
With perfect confidence we may rely on the absence of compulsion.
The feeling of people in England towards the colonies is rapidly
changing for the better. Fuller knowledge about them is spreading;
great interest is constantly evinced about them. I would undertake
in an English town to gather a larger audience to hear a lecture
upon Australia than in an Australian town to hear a lecture upon


any part of the United Kingdom. I can recall a night. not two years
ago, when in a small English town (population about 20,000) I filled
a large hall with attentive people. I can recall how interested the
audience showed itself in what I had to say, and how rigorously it
cheered on I sketched in rough outline the proposal to lengthen the
cords and strengthen the stakes of the British Empire.

The Imperial Federation League seems to me to he thoughtfully
showing a regard for the future in bringing forward this question.
No one can maintain that it presses for _immediate_ settlement. The
present relation between the colonies and the Mother Country may
last for some time; but it seems unreasonable to expect them to
continue for ever, and the strain may come at any moment. It may
fairly be argued that relations which are suitable enough when
colonies are comparatively small cease to be suitable when they
grow large and important. Let us look at the proportions. The
population of the United Kingdom amounts to over thirty-five
millions, that of the English colonies to over ten millions. At the
present day, questions of peace or war, which certainly affect not the
United Kingdom only, bot the whole empire, are decided by the
Government, indirectly but undoubtedly chosen by the thirty-five:
the ten, who are as much concerned, and some, it may be, even more,
have no voice in the matter. Even with this proportion the arrange-
ment hardly seems fair; but the population of the colonies is
increasing very much more rapidly than that of the United
Kingdom, and it has been calculated by experts in statistics that in
less than 50 years the population of the colonies will exceed that of
the Mother Country. Could it, then. still be expected that the policy
of the Empire on important questions shall be settled entirely by
the latter? It may be said the difficulty will not fall in our days:
we have sufficient burdens for our backs. The policy of letting
drift, such as led to the Crimean War, is surely a mistaken policy.
If we look forward some years, it seems perfectly clear that the
colonies will either he more closely joined to England or will be
independent. Letting the ship drift will probably befriend the
cause of reparation; but even that, if it is to come at all, would come
better after full and fair consideration, would be accepted better
with open eyes. But those of us who do not desire separation at all,
neither now nor in the far future, are surely right to look well round
this matter; not to let themselves be surprised into any surrender of
what they value, to strengthen the ties that combine, and to remove
all causes of irritation that tend to disunite. When we hear men


say, “let drift, matters will settle themselves if left alone,” when we
hear a glorification of the practice of putting the telescope to the
blind eye, let us propound in turn the queries—Is the steersman’s art
a lost art? is statesmanship dead? and do all honour to the seeing
eye and the discerning ear.

It has been often said that Imperial Federation is opposed to
Australian Federation, and a famous remark of Sir John O’Shanassy
has been quoted, that if ever Australian Federation was being
considered Imperial Federation would be dragged like a red herring
across the scent. All I can answer is that for my part I cannot
understand why advocates of one kind of Federation should oppose
the other. To show how earnestly I am in favour of a combination
of the Australian colonies, would state my own conviction. which, I
am afraid, is not likely to he shared, that in their case a union would
be better than a federation. Instead of federating these colonies,
I would unite them with a single Parliament and a single Govern-
ment. Some of us find it very hard to enter into the deadly
jealousies between the different colonies, very hard to see why cross-
ing the Murray should, as far as Custom-houses are concerned, be like
entering a foreign country. One can understand the historical
reasons for the earlier division into different colonies. It helped
districts to develop. Melbourne and Brisbane were far from Sydney.
and were neglected, as is often the manner of capitals to neglect the
back country. But why should this difference of government be
now perpetuated? Fond as I am of holidays, I could never take
pleasure in Separation Day.

Lest it should be inferred from this that Victoria would only
like such a union on condition that Melbourne was the capital, I
would add that the example of the United States and of Canada
would best be followed in making choice of a place for the seat of
Government. A small town like Ottawa, or such as Washington
was, should be chosen, so as not to arouse local jealousies. It is
better that a great city should not have too much influence upon a
Government. This is why the French Chambers sat so long at Ver-
sailles. Melbourne would not answer more than Quebec, nor Sydney
than Montreal; and if Melbourne did suffer somewhat, it should
he prepared to make some sacrifice for the general good.

Imperial Federation is not, and ought not to be, considered in
any way hostile to Australian Federation. In some mind: there has
been a doubt which ought to come first. To our rulers It has
seemed good that we should proceed from the smaller to the larger,


a process of gradually building up the constitution of the future.
This seems the natural and wise method. The respective advantages
of large and small States have been a common topic of discussion in
debating societies and essay clubs, nor can we say that as an abstract
question it has been definitely settled. There are those, especially
the followers of Auguste Comte, who think that states as small as
the Greek _polis_ will again head the politics of the world; and this
feeling was at the root of sympathy with the Paris Commune,
shared by those who did not love the communistic ideas of some of
its leaders. Certainly, some of the most brilliant and fascinating
periods of history have been connected with independent city life,
after as well as before the establishment of world empires, as the
names of Florence and Venice, as well as Athens, will testify. But
the question in the present day, rather, is—Whether small States can
co-exist with large States, or can only co-exist at the price of com-
plete effacement. Sweden and Holland once held great places in
Europe; but their neighbours then were nothing like so powerful as
the great States are now, and now even the separate existence of
Holland is threatened. Compare Sweden and Russia now, and it is diffi-
cult for us to bear in mind the fact that less than two centuries ago
Sweden was considered the equal of Russia and that on the morning of
“Pultowa’s day, when fortune left the royal Swede,” it was doubtful
which was the stronger. The small States of Greece were able to
hold out against Persia; but that was the triumph of civilisation.
Give equal civilisation to the big State, and it must conquer. If
Xerxes was beaten, Philip of Macedon prevailed. Let us remember
Napoleon’s saying, that Providence is on the side of the stronger

It seems almost impossible to imagine with the Positivists that
the strong nations that now occupy Europe will divide into hundreds
and thousands of independent cities, each with a small territory.
For the whole act of history has been in the direction of unification,
and a generation which has seen the unity of Italy little by little
won in pursuance of the wise policy of Cavour, and the unity of
Germany cemented by the man of blood and iron, which can remem-
ber the joy of each of those nations as they attained their desire
and how they counted all their sacrifices as little compared with the
joy of attaining it, cannot even conceive the turning back of this
strong, impetuous current. A world empire will probably never
again be reached, as the expression now would mean so much more
than the Empire of Rome; but for many years to come the ten-


dency will be towards diminishing the number of States, and the
place of a world empire will be taken by few very powerful States.
The future belongs to the big States. Over 50 years ago De
Tocqueville prophesied in a passage which deserves to be remembered
that Russia and the United States would be the two great powers of
the world, and Professor Seeley points out that it depends on the
solution of the question now under discussion whether England
shall be their peer or of only half their importance. It has seemed
to me that in this prophecy sufficient weight in not attached to the
future growth of other continental nations. Germany at least has
not reached its full size. There are three directions, and probably
more, in which the German Empire will continue to expand. At a
day not very far distant, she will wrest German-speaking provinces
from Russia. The heterogeneous Austrian Empire will divide, and
the Germans of Austria proper, by race, by speech, by traditions
attracted to the German Empire, will separate from Hungary. The
House of Hapsburg will transfer its capital to Buda-Pesth, and its
Empire will be extended down the Danube Valley eastward, and
southward to reconcile it to the secession of its German subjects.
The old Kaiser-stadt Vienna will not always remain outside an
Empire of which the invention of the needle-gun deprived it of the
possible headship. The third and strongest addition to Germany may
come first of all, viz., Holland. The distinction between Dutch and
Deutsch is not great, and though there may be objections on the
part of Dutchmen, who, in memory of its heroic beginning and their
own historic greatness, will grieve for lost independence, these men
will be as powerless to prevent absorption in Germany as the few
in Hanover who treasure the memory of their blind old king. The
German Empire has claims on Holland, when the present heirless
king dies, stronger than those which Frederick of Prussia had on
Silesia, and Silesia is Prussia’s to this hour. Add Holland to Ger-
many, and see what she will gain—a large trade by sea, seaports,
ships, and colonies. The colonies of Holland are pretty sleepy now;
but fancy the new vigour of the strongest and best educated nation
of the world poured into their veins. The claim to the western half
of New Guinea would not lie dormant long, and Germany would
have a regular belt of colonies between Australia and India—Sumatra,
Java, Borneo, the Moluccas, and the greater part of New Guinea.

If we look forward 50 years, I would put it, we shall find three
great Empires—the United States and Russia, with Germany not
behind them. Whether England shall be in a line With these three

powers, or have fallen behind them, depends upon the decision of
the English peoples (a decision which must be arrived at before it be
too late) whether the colonies shall form a part of the Empire or
stand independent. British unity in some shape or disintegration—
which shall it be? But one can imagine an objector saying, “This
desire for strength is all very well from the point of view of an
Englishman, and one who believes in intervention; but suppose that
each nation is left to manage its own affaires without this policy of
constant interference, or regard the matter from the point of view of
an Australian who believes in peace.” I am quite willing to allow
that our country might refrain more from meddling with other
nations. The view that ‘England in the policeman of the world’
must be adopted in its entirety. or not at all. It led to the bombard-
ment of Alexandria and to all the unhappy Egyptian complications
that have followed. In this police work you cannot stop at will,
and the course on which we entered at Alexandria soon led to results
at which the British taxpayer was aghast. The maintenance of a
world police is a very expensive luxury. Diminish the amount of
interference, muzzle the great Jingo party that is always raging for
battle: even then it may be well for the world that England
should be strong—strong for purposes of defence. if not for defiance.
No nation can cut itself off from contact with its fellows, and if a
nation be not strong, how can it defend itself against encroachment—
how even protect its liberties? The fable has been recently quoted
of the earthen pot and the iron pots floating down the stream
together. The former fared badly. Foreigners of many nations
will tell us that they do not desire the effacement of England. The
couplet that Max Müller recently contributed to an Austrian perio-
dical would convey their feeling:—

Deutsch wie ich bin, ich muss auf Deutsch es sagen;
Ohn ‘England wär’ die Welt nicht zu ertragen.

‘Without England the world were intolerable,’ is pleasant comfort
from German lips.

Turning to the other objection, let us consider what Australia has
to gain. If the world is not to be governed by sentiment, it is neces-
sary to show that closer union with other parts of the Empire would
be for the interest of Australia. Would it not be possible, it is often
asked, for Australia to remain independent of all other nations, an
‘Arcadia of the Southern Seas?’ The Australasian colonies number
three millions of inhabitants. A nation of that strength would be


able to defend itself against any force that could be sent against it.
This modern Arcadia is the product of modern civilisation. and de-
pends upon trade. If the wool trade were to cease by the prevention
of its carriage for a single season, what wide-spread ruin woo
ensue. No cause has been so fertile in producing modern wars as
commerce. Australia is dependent on English and foreign bottoms
for almost all her carrying trade. Suppose Australia independent,
and a great European war to break out. no English men-of-war
would convoy the wool ships, and can it be believed that Australia
would be able to supply herself at once with ships for the carriage
of her wool? Would no commercial questions arise in which peace-
ful and isolated Australia would have the worst of it? Another
fruitful source of wars would be found in the settlements
of other European nations in our neighbourhood. Had Australia
been independent, can anyone imagine that the French would have
abandoned the scheme of transporting their incurable convicts to
New Caledonia? or that the French would hesitate a single day to
annex the New Hebrides? We think that we have reason to com-
plain that Germany has a portion at New Guinea. Is it probable
that the power which has recently treated so contemptuously the
claim of Spain to the Caroline Islands would have respected an Aus-
tralian claim to New Guinea, a claim unaccompanied by settlement?
Some day United Australia will he very strong; but even in that
day she will be better off as an integral part of the British Empire
helping to mould its policy and to spread its influence. Indepen-
dence for Australia now, with her present population and strength,
would assuredly mean yielding in commercial quarrels, acceptance
of any neighbours that may come, and possibly exposure to attack.
I have shown already that before long North Australia will pro-
one one strong neighbour.

It is a common saying that Parliamentary Government is on its
trial, and he would be bold who would maintain that in the course
of ages some better development in terms and methods of govern-
ment may not take its place. But at present, though we hear
grumbles (and what human institution is never grumbled at), we
find no active attempts to diminish the power of Parliament, and
were such an attempt made all would predict its certain failure. In
Germany Parliament has never been able to obtain the power that
it has in England; but of Parliaments everywhere it may be said
_vestigia nulla retrorsum_. Once they gain power there is no diminu-
tion of it. The House of Commons is in Macaulay’s dignified lan-

guage, the “archetype of all the representative assemblies which now
most, hither in the old or in the new world.” Its long history entitles
it to our respect, for its history has on the whole been a history of
progress. It has been on the side of liberty. Yet if we look closely
at this august mother of free Parliaments, as we see her in the pre-
sent day, she seems to be suffering from paralysis, from overwork,
from congestion of the brain. The House of Commons is over-
burdened with work, and chance to a large extent decides what
work is accomplished. There is not the least doubt that every year
the House of Commons undertakes to do more than it can possibly
perform, And at the same time there is a party in the House which
wishes to stop its doing work altogether. Witness that painful in-
stitution called the Massacre of the Innocents. A certain number of
bills held by the Government of the day good for the country,
after having been carefully considered by the House, and advanced
several stages, are at the end of a session summarily disposed of. All
the labour that has been expended on them is thrown away. The
pressure is so great that members have not sufficient time to think;
at least, that is the testimony of one of them. Until quite lately
Lord Randolph Churchill has not been burdened by the work nor
sobered by the responsibilities of office. Shortly before he entered
upon his present position, he took occasion to address a meeting of
undergraduates at Cambridge, and this was the advice that he gave
them:— “Do your thinking now; you will not have time for it
afterwards.” What is the hope—the question will press itself on the
mind—what is the hope for a nation, and how great its dangers, if
in the world of politics the thought be the thought of under—
graduates, though the voice be the voice of rulers?

The thought in the Government Offices before the bills were put
into shape, the toil of the draftsmen, the debates in the House
carried on at unnatural hours, and paid for in a blood tax of over-
tasked brains and overstrained strength—no one has a right to com-
plain of this expenditure of labour in the case of the bills that are
rejected. It is right and proper that the House should exercise
choice and judgment, and should reject as it seems good to it, however
great be the toil already expended on the measure. But there is
righteous ground for indignant asking “to what purpose was this
waste?” with respect to valuable measures that would be passed if
there were time, but because of the general block are neglected.
They are the twelve omnibuses that want to pace through Temple
Bar abreast. The massacre of the innocents! A cheerful sort of jest!


Either the country needs these reassures, or it does not need them.
In the latter case, they should be rejected or never introduced at all.
But if it be true that they are needed, there is something rotten in
arrangements according to which the useful work of the country is
not done. Once admit this evil, and it is not like Englishmen to
allow it to continue. Of course there are palliatives, such as further
use of the principle of committees and grand committees, a free use
of closure, if not an absolute limitation of each man’s speaking time,
permission to take a measure up at the beginning of a later session
of the same Parliament at the exact stage which it had reached at
the close of the previous session, and, I wish to add, a much more
liberal use of the modern conveniences of printing. Instead of
wasting two hours in question and answer, the former often cross
and the latter crooked, let members send in their questions, and let
printed answers be circulated. Let any member also be entitled,
within certain but liberal limits, to print his objections to a measure.
If the time of the House can be saved by swelling the printer’s bill,
it would pay the country well. But when all these palliatives have
been applied, and all the relief given, it will still be found that the
House has too much to do. Its appetite is omnivorous. It concerns
itself with the affairs of the world, or with a statue in London, or
no injustice alleged to have been done by some English school board.
Now it is the peace of Europe, now the dismissal of a charwoman
from it public office. The House of Commons may be compared to a
Nasmyth steam hammer, which will crack a nut or crush a ton of
iron. But the nut-cracking business is rather a waste of power.

The following is an extract from Burke’s furious speech on
American Taxation:— “The Parliament of Great Britain sits at the
head of her extensive Empire in two capacities; one as the local
legislature of this island, providing for all things at home, imme-
diately, and by no other instrument than the executive power. The
other, and I think her nobler capacity, is what I call her _imperial_
character, in which, as from the throne of heaven, she superintends
all the several inferior legislatures, and guides and controls them all
without annihilating any.” Does not this passage give us a key to
the sort of change that is now required? If a body has too much to
do, and the business needs to be done, though it is not done, the
wisest course is to take some of the functions from it and give them
to another body. Does not the distinction drawn by Burke suggest
the true line of cleavage? Supposing that we were starting fresh as,
after their separation from England. our kinsfolk in the United


States were, what form of government would most certainly be de-
vised? A general government to manage all that concerns the whole,
and separate local governments to manage those matters wherein
there would he a difference of local interests. Now, if that be the
form of government most certain to be desired, what hinders us from
creating it now? The majestic figure of the English House of Com-
mons. I yield to no one in my admiration of the House of Com-
mons; but if the proposed reform be demonstrably useful, and we
hesitate through fear of laying hands on this majestic figure, we are
surely allowing sentiment to dominate our politics in an extraor-
dinary degree. The English Parliament has gone through a change
before, and for the public good will have to pass through changes
yet. It is promotion for the House of Commons, and not degrada-
tion, to he made to represent a larger area, to be made truly Imperial
by the admission of elected representative members from over seas,
from the Dominion of Canada, and from South Africa, as well as
from the Dominion of Australasia. and at the same time to take
from her as unworthy of her attention all the affairs of Little Ped-
lington, all the hundred and one trumpery questions that new block
the way and hinder the wheels of her chariot. For dealing with
these a subordinate Parliament, or Parliaments, should be created,
following ancient lines and the practice of the English in various
parts of the world.

We Englishmen over seas have no desire to meddle in purely
English matters. We may take an interest in them; but they are
not ours, and we don’t want to vote upon them. England may
decide for herself what she will do with the Deceased Wife’s Sister;
we do not desire to deal with her railway bills, or factory acts, or
colliery regulations. Let each part of the Empire think out for
itself the proper limits for the liquor traffic, and the proper methods
of education. Let us interchange experiences; but it is well for the
world that in all such matters as these there should be varieties of
treatment. We may learn from England, as we have learnt much
in the past, and England in return has taken not a few lessons from
the colonies; though, indeed, I have heard the reproach uttered in
England that the Australian colonies have not ventured on sufficient
political experiments.

Let us ask, therefore, that the House of Commons be made truly
Imperial; but do not let the present Parliament at Westminster
continue to endeavour after two sets of duties, as it now endeavours,
and as it did in the days of Burke. Some have proposed that the


Agents-General of the colonies should have seats in the House of
Commons, or that the colonies should send elected representatives,
but that these members should have no votes in the domestic legis-
lation of the United Kingdom. This would but increase confusion,
and is a very half-hearted temporary expedient, as is the establish-
ment of a Colonial Council on the pattern of the Indian, or the re-
vival of a defunct committee of the Privy Council. The colonies
have their Parliaments for domestic legislation; so ought England to
have hers, and I will add that, if the Scotch wish it, Scotland hers,
and as the Irish most certainly wish it, Ireland hers. Here Imperial
Federation touches on a very burning question—Home Rule—and
humbly offers a settlement of it. It has always seemed to me that
Home Rule may either mean very little or very much, according as at
one end of the scale we range under it only such powers as usually
accompany municipal institutions, or at the other end something
near to complete separation, which, according to the recent telegrams,
Mr. Parnell seems to be demanding. The former all should be pre-
pared to grant; the latter, none. The Irish difficulty is a very
genuine trouble to the authorities at home, and great would be the
cause for rejoicing if Federation could be made to solve it by keep-
ing the Empire whole and yet granting to Ireland that local Parlia-
mentary government which we enjoy in Australia, and would be
furious to be without. There may be difficulties in making the
central power strong and yet restraining it from encroachment; but
the difficulties are such as can be overcome—difficulties are the
statesman’s opportunity. We all have strong sympathy with the
statesmen at home who, having done their utmost to meet the fair
aspirations of the Irish, and to remove their genuine grievances, are
confronted now with a demand that threatens the very existence of
our composite nation, especially when the demand is supported by
obstruction on the one hand, and by dynamite on the other. Natur-
ally it is felt that to yield to such arguments is dangerous. Does
not Imperial Federation offer the very solution of this difficulty, if
a fair demand of the Irish can be granted at the same moment that
the Empire as a whole is strengthened? The prophecy is now com-
monly made that in a few months, at the next general election in
the United Kingdom, a large increase in the number of Home Rulers
will be returned. It would be good policy to make concession not
on compulsion, but as part of a wider and statesmanlike plan. Already
a study of the recent English magazines reveals that smaller and
piecemeal plans are being favoured.


But it may be urged that this new arrangement would not suit
English political parties. To us, who are aloof from them, that
hardly seems a very fatal objection. We have often heard of an
English Ministry being excellent in domestic legislation, but not
retaining the confidence of the country in their management of foreign
affairs. There is no special reason in the fitness of things why a
Cabinet should be strong in two wholly diverse departments; nor
can it be said that the present English division into parties squares
with a necessary division in the minds of men, though I have heard
that doctrine asserted in language which hardly makes Private
Willis, in ‘Iolanthe,’ exaggerate when he sings—

Every little boy end girl
Who is born into this world alive,
In either a little Liberal
0r else a little Conservative.

Rather it is an advantage for the proposal if it introduces cross
divisions into English political life. Parliamentary government on
its trial! Representative institutions doubted! Were it altogether
treason to suggest that it is party government, and the system of
homogeneous Cabinets, that will first have to be reconsidered? Is
that a necessary accompaniment of representative institutions?

And now to return for a moment to large and small States.
There are many advantages about small states, and one great ad-
vantage attaches to the large, viz., strength and safety. The draw-
back to a large state is the similarity of the pattern. Institutions in
different parts of Germany are already more like than they were 20
years ago. It is good for the world to have varieties of government,
varieties in politics, as in other aspects of national life. Such an
over centralisation as we find in France really hinders civilisation,
and does damage to human character.

Ground in yonder social mill,
We rub each others’ angles down,
And merge, he said, in form and gloss,
The picturesque of man and man.

Now, it has often occurred to me that in a true Federation may be
found a combination of that which is good in large States joined to
that independence and variety which is good in small States. What
is wanted, in fact, is perfect and complete local liberty for each part
of the federation to manage its own affairs without interference.
The defeated party in a colony often threatens to appeal to the
Mother Country, and there is a suspicion abroad that some are sup-


porting Imperial Federation in order to have a Government over
the colonial Government, to which appeal can be made. If there
be any such, they are the real foes of Imperial Federation, wanting
to use it for their own ends. The provinces of the local and Im-
perial Governments or Legislatures should be quite distinct, and the
distinction formally recognised, otherwise the boon conferred will
be no boon at all.

In the passage that I quoted from Burke, there are words that
might be used to support their view. He speaks of the imperial
Parliament as “superintending all the several inferior Legislatures
guiding and controlling them without annihilating any.” Now. no
such power is to be exercised by the Imperial Parliament, or the
Federation is impossible. The Federation League says, and says
wisely, “No scheme of Federation shall interfere with the existing
rights of local Parliaments as regards local affairs.”

There is one question that I have avoided in the proposals which
I have here dealt with. It is whether in this system of representa-
tive Parliaments, each Parliament should consist of two Chambers.
I have avoided it for two reasons; first as, compared with the prin-
ciple for which I am contending, it does not seem to me of great im-
portance. For my own part, I should like variety, to have some of
the Parliaments in two Chambers, and some in a single Chamber.
The second reason is that the question is complicated to an extra-
ordinary degree by the existence and by the present position of the
House of Lords. One cannot but recollect the storm against the
Lords last year, and in any consideration of their position we an
hardly fail to remember the thundering cheers, and the echoes of
cheers, that in St. James’ Hall, London, greeted the proposal to “end
them or mend them.” If the former alternative be adopted, the
complication exists no longer—if the latter, much depends on the
mode of amendment; but many in the colonies would prefer that
hereditary legislation should be confined to the local Parliament or
Parliaments in the United Kingdom. In the United States. I
may add, the Central Legislature consists of two Chambers. To the
lower House representatives are elected directly; to the Upper they
are elected by the Legislatures of the States. In the former case,
Stabs are represented according to their population; in the latter
each State has an equal number of votes.

It is advisable to show how the work would be divided between
the Imperial and the local Governments and Parliaments. The Im-
perial Parliament would have foreign affairs, the army and navy,


India and the colonies. Probably, also, there would he a final court
of appeal. imperial in its character. To the local Government: would
appertain all the work of the Home Office, all internal, police, and
questions touching education. I take a recent list of an English
Cabinet, and thus divide the offices. In the Imperial Cabinet would
sit the Fist Lord of the Treasury, the Lord Chancellor, the First
Lord of the Admiralty, and the Secretaries of State for the Colonies,
for War, and for India. In the other Cabinet would sit the Chancel-
lor of the Exchequer, the Secretary of State for the Home Depart-
ment, the President of the Council, the Postmaster-General, and
the gentlemen who preside over the Board of Trade, and the Local
Government Board. I have not classed the Lord Privy Seal
or the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, for the simple reason
that I am ignorant of their special duties. I seem to remember some
one—I think John Bright—describing the latter official as the maid of
at all work of a Ministry, ready to help in any overpreseed depart-
ment. If that be the real explanation of these offices, there might
be a Privy Seal and a Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in each
Cabinet. No doubt, in days of pressure work enough would be
found for them to do.

With respect to this allotment of work, it may he asked, Why
should a Secretory of State for the Colonies continue? This is not
meant to be in any way a revival of Downing-street rule; on the
contrary. the dealings between the Colonial Office and the great
Parliamentary colonies would be very much diminished when these
colonies were represented in an Imperial Parliament. But the
word ‘colony’ is a wide word, and includes paces that are as dif-
ferent from Canada or Australia as chalk from cheese. There are
many Crown colonies, and there are strongholds like Gibraltar and
Malta. There are places other than India where the bulk of the
population consists of aliens, and colonies of this sort cannot be left
to self-government. The appointment also of Governors would be
in the hands of the Imperial Government. All of these functions
would still require a Colonial Office; but the representatives of the
colonies might be trusted to see that the Colonial Office did not in-
terfere with local liberties.

Defence should be in the hands of the Government of the whole,
not of the parts. The creation of separate colonial armies and navies
seems like a frittering of force, as well as an invitation to separation.
The withdrawal of the English troops some years ago was a part of


the plan of education for the independence which we don’t desire.
In military mutton, strength depend: upon unity of design.
We may all well agree with the Sydney barrister who wrote lately
in an English magazine that the proposals for Federation might
reasonably begin with the defences of the Empire. A comprehen-
sive scheme seems needed, especially to protect the colony, coaling
stations, and various points of connection in our steamer routes, and an
opportunity is offered for a statesman to come forward with a real
turn for construction. At the some time, I cannot agree with Mr.
Wise that the whole burden of a strong Australian fleet of men-of-war
should be left upon England upon the ground that it is England’s
commerce which is protected. Australia reaps quite as much from
the protection as England, and might fairly share the expense. But
it would be better still that the task of the defence of every part of
the Empire should fall upon the Imperial Government, only that
Government, as I have many times said, should be truly imperial and
every part of the Empire should help to bear the burden of the
common defence. In the scheme that I am thus somewhat boldly
sketching out, there are many difficulties, I readily allow, and, for my
part, I have tried not to shirk them. Finance is, perhaps, the greatest.
My own opinion is that the collection of revenue should rest with
the local Governments, and that the Imperial Government should
receive a regular quota from each. The difficulty is that a recalci-
trant member might refuse to pay. Many have contended that a
Zollverein should precede Federation; but in our desperate war of
tariffs it looks as if we were further from the Zollverein then from
the unity.

We shall be told that distance makes impossible this grand
scheme for keeping our English empire whole. The objection has
been made in a well-known passage of Burke, which I think must
be that to which Professor Seeley alludes when he speaks of Burke’s
“throwing ridicule upon the notion of summoning representatives
from so vast a distance.” I see no ridicule in it. Burke has been
saying that we ought “to admit the people of our colonies into an
interest in the constitution,” and he continues—“You will now, sir,
perhaps imagine that I am on the point of proposing to you a scheme
for a representation of the colonies in Parliament. Perhaps I might
be inclined to entertain some such thought; but a great flood stops
me in my course. _Opposuit natura_. I cannot remove the eternal
barriers of the creation. The thing, in that mode, I do not know
to possible. As I meddle with no theory, I do not absolutely


assert the impracticability of such a representation. But I do not see
my way to it; and those who have been more confident have not been
more successful.” There we have the distance argument definitely
and well stated. What is the reply to it? It shall be given, first
in epigrams, and then in facts. Said Mr. Froude, 15 years ago,
“Steam and the telegraph have abolished distance.” Says Mr. Seeley
—“Science has given to the political organism a new circulation,
which is steam, and a new nervous system, which is electricity.”
Secondly. we may note that distance has not always been held a
valid objection in the matter of representation. Distance, it will of
course be allowed, is a matter of time. When the Union with Scot-
land was accomplished in the year of Grace 1707. how long did the
hon. member for the Orkney and Shetland Isles require before he
could take his seat at Westminster? He had to wait at Kirkwall
for a wind ere he could cross a stormy firth; and he had then to
travel 450 miles over roads that were no roads. The Union is of
earlier date than the improvement made in the Highland roads after
the Rebellion known an “the Fifteen.” When the soldiers had
made these improvements, the saying went round:—

If you had seen these roads before they were made,
You’d hold up your hands and bless General Wade.

The generation that lived just before railways was so accustomed to
splendid roads and magnificently appointed coaches that the fact is
often ignored that, thanks to Macadam, a revolution in travelling
was affected a quarter of a century earlier almost as great as by the
railway train. Macaulay, in his famous third chapter, tells us
something of his difficulties of travelling over bad roads, and some
of his illustrations are taken from times after the Union. Have we
ever considered how long it took the hon. member for Galway to
reach London in the days that followed the Union with Ireland, in
1801. ‘The boy for Galway’ had a land journey of 150 miles before
he could reach Dublin. He then whistled for the wind, and had a
passage across St. George’s Channel, described by Mr. Froude as often
more difficult than a voyage across the Atlantic nowadays. The
journey from Holyhead to London was not anything like that in
the ‘Wild Irishman,’ as men facetiously call the well-appointed ex-
press train that runs passengers from Dublin to Euston Square. But
the best instance that distance has been disregarded is the State of
California, which was represented at Washington, not only before
the railway over the Rocky Mountains was made, but before the
Panama railway, when the only available route from San Francisco


was round Cape Horn. I have little doubt that a representative from
Melbourne could take his seat at Westminster within 30 days of his
election, or sooner if the colony wished it. Nothing is more remark-
able than the way in which rapidity of travelling comes when one is
ready to pay for it. An old East Indiaman oftentimes took six
months to sail to India. I remember when in steamers six weeks
was considered quick work. Men with only three months’ furlough
stand in Charing Cross station now 19 days after they have left
Bombay; and sober men. not by any means dreamers, hope that
before long London letters will be delivered in Bombay within six
days. Don’t let us take the present mail pace between London and
Melbourne as a criterion. Few who have travelled by Australian
mail steamers but have had experience of ‘slowing-down.’ Ask the
captain of your steamer, and he will say, “Yes, we can go faster; but
it would not pay.” Compare the Cunard or Inman pace. Lastly
there is the telegraph, and it is written that soon we are to have
much cheaper telegrams. The hon. member will be able to keep
himself in touch with his constituents, and his constituents will be
able to communicate with him, and send mandates if they wish.

Those who talk about Imperial Federation, says Mr. Freeman,
have forgotten India on the one hand and the United States
upon the other. If the Federation is to he a federation of the whole
Empire, he says, India must have a share, and if India is to have a
share her population would give her the preponderating share, and
how would the British Jingo like that? Mr. Freeman objects to the
expression ‘Imperial Federation’ altogether, and there is much force
in his objection. Only, unfortunately, language will grow, and the way
that it grows in not usually by inventing new words, but by taking
old words and changing their meaning. The word ‘empire’ has
come to mean the Queen’s dominions, come to be used an a term wider
than the United Kingdom. But it is only proposed that the colonies
which enjoy constitutional government should form parts of the
Federation: they only fulfil the preliminary condition of having
local Parliaments for local interests. The nature of the government
of Crown colonies and of India it is not proposed to alter: nor is it
specially logical to demand that other races should be admitted into
the British Federation. There are heaps of anomalies in British institu-
tions, and it will be a harder task even than tackling Federation, if we
set to work to remove them all. As Mr. Freeman harps on the power
that a fair federation must give to the electors of Masulipatam one
cannot help recollecting that he is the man to whom has been attri-


buted the saying, ‘perish India,’ and though I fully accept the ex-
planation offered in his behalf, that what he said was “perish India
rather that that injustice be done,” yet one cannot help the thought
that he would gladly abandon the English _raj_ in India. Now, those
of us who feel that the English rule has on the whole been a blessing
to India, that prosperity has come to the country in a measure
unknown before, that justice has taken the place of corruption, and
firm but kindly rule, of tyranny, that the _Pax Anglica_ has been to India
from Cape Comorin to the Himalayas, what the _Pax Romana_ was in
the days of the Antonines—those of us who feel this will not desire to
remove our rule from India, or fear that its character will be weakened
or spoilt by a stronger Imperial Parliament, broader based than the
present. Secondly, have we forgotten the United States? When I
spoke of Australian Federation preceding Imperial I avowed my pre-
ference for the process of gradual building up. All advocates for
Federation wish that the United States had never separated, and
regret the policy of Lord North and of his master; but we must recog-
nize that an alteration in the constitution of a nation which is yet
one is far easier then bringing together nations that, however much
we may regret it, are distinct and separate, even though they speak
the same language. The task that we are proposing is one of
remarkable difficulty, and can only be accomplished by steadiness of
aim, unity of purpose, and constructive statesmanship of no ordinary
type. Not a word will I say against the United States. The best
speech at the recent great meeting in the Town-hall was marred by
an expression of suspicion about them. I will not even go so far as
Mr. Bright, who, though he has scoffed at what we call Imperial Federa-
tion, lately expressed a desire for a union of English-speaking peoples;
but he added to our cousins in America, “You must allow the hegemony
to remain with England.” I look forward in the future to an equal
alliance between two nations of equal strength. On their alliance
and hearty co-operation depends the future of the world; but I can-
not but believe that the alliance is more likely to be equal and
lasting if the two nations be of equal strength. This, I trust, is not
Jingoism. I hate war. English people are far too fond of it, and
their fondness for it is dangerous. I hate aggression and the doctrine
that our nation may take what she likes of the waste places of the
world, but that no other nation may. But I like quiet strength, and
I do believe that a strong England is good for the world. Why do
we want England strong? Because whatever her mistakes, what-
ever her shortcomings, her voice is on the side of freedom and justice


the world over. Whatever individuals may have done, the policy of
the nation has been, and now is, in favour of fair and kindly treat-
ment of native races. On the whole, India has been governed well.
It was England who fought against and conquered Napoleon;
England that freed the slaves; England that acts as policeman now
to put the slave trade down. Is it prejudice to believe it good for
the world that such a nation should be strong, and to desire that
we should belong to such a nation?