Classic History Books


The History of England by A. E. Pollard

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

 

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