Classic History Books

The History of England by A. E. Pollard

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,


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