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Title: Greater Greece and Greater Britain; and George Washington the Great Expander of England

Two Lectures with an Appendix

Author: Edward Augustus Freeman

Release Date: January 7, 2015 [eBook #47908]

Language: English

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Greater Greece and Greater Britain1
George Washington, the Expander of Britain66

Greater Greece and Greater Britain
George Washington
The Expander of England





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These two lectures were given quite independently, the former to the Students’ Association at Edinburgh on December 22nd, 1885, and the latter as a public lecture in the University of Oxford on Washington’s birthday, February 22nd, 1886. As they were written for two different audiences, and as one leading idea ran through both, there was naturally a good deal of repetition, sometimes even to the very words. This I have, in revising them for the press, done my best to get rid of. They appear now as two discourses, looking at the same general subject from two somewhat different points of view, and each putting different points more prominently forward. To these I have added, as an Appendix, such parts as were not immediately temporary of an article which appeared in Macmillan’s Magazine for April, 1885, under the heading of “Imperial Federation.” In this article, written only to be read and not to be heard, some points which were treated in a more rhetorical way in the lectures are dealt with in a style of more minute argument. It seemed therefore to make a fitting commentary on the lectures.

April 7th, 1886.



The name of Greater Britain is one which of late years has become strangely familiar. It is possible that a generation back the words might have fallen harshly on patriotic ears. We were then used to believe that the Britain in which we lived was so great that there could be none greater. The name of “Great Britain” was perhaps used without any very clear notion of its history; but it was at least accepted as implying greatness of some kind. Whatever may have been the exact meaning with which the name of “Greater Britain” was first brought in, it was, we may be sure, suggested by the seemingly older phrase of “Great Britain.” Those who first spoke of “Greater Britain” perhaps hardly knew that the name is as old as that of “Great Britain,” and, more than2 this, that “Great Britain” and “Greater Britain” are in truth phrases of exactly the same meaning. I would not venture to say how much older the name of “Magna Britannia” may be than its somewhat irregular employment in the royal style by James Sixth and First. But “Greater Britain,” “Major Britannia,” is undoubtedly as old as the twelfth century. We perhaps sometimes forget that, besides this our isle of Britain, there is another Britain on the continent, no other than the land which, by a slight change of ending, we commonly call Britanny. But in Latin and in French the two names are the same, Britannia and Bretagne. The one land is Bretagne, the other is Grande-Bretagne; the one is Britannia minor, the other is Britannia major. In short, the Britain of the island, the Great or Greater Britain, was so called simply to distinguish it from the Lesser Britain on the mainland.

Here, be it remarked, the Greater Britain is the older, the Lesser is the younger; the Greater is the mother-country, the Lesser is the colony.3 The Lesser Britain of the mainland never took that name till it was settled by men fleeing from the Greater Britain in the island. Now in the sense in which we have of late years heard the phrase “Greater Britain,” all this has been turned the other way. “Great Britain” is not simply opposed to a Lesser Britain; it is opposed to a Britain which is confessedly great, but, it would seem, not so great as the Greater. And of these the one which is simply Great is the elder; the Greater is the younger; the Great is the mother-country, the ruling country; the Lesser is the plantation, the dependency, or rather an aggregate of plantations and dependencies all over the world. The change, the contrast, between the old use of “Major Britannia” and the new use of “Greater Britain” is so very singular that one is driven to ask whether those who brought in the new use ever had the old one in their thoughts at all.

But the question becomes more curious still when we bear in mind that there was in a distant age of the world an use of a kindred phrase which4 is strikingly like, not the old, but the new use of the phrase “Greater Britain.” As there was a Greater and a Lesser Britain, so there was, perhaps not a Lesser, but assuredly a Greater Greece. And the Greater Greece did not answer to the “Major Britannia” of our older use, but to the “Greater Britain” of our newer. The Greater Greece was not an older Greece from which settlers went forth, as they went forth from the Greater Britain of old, to found a younger and a lesser. The Greater Greece, like the Greater Britain of modern times, was an assemblage of settlements from the elder Greece which were deemed, or deemed themselves, to have become greater than the mother-country. The Great or the Greater Greece (Ἡ μεγάλη Ἑλλάς, Magna Græcia, Major Græcia) became the received geographical name for the Greek colonies in Southern Italy. And they may be thought to have deserved the name in that short and brilliant time when those colonies distinctly outstripped the mother-country, when Sybaris and Tarentum ranked among the greatest cities of the earth, more5 brilliant and flourishing, beyond doubt, than Athens or Sparta or Corinth or any other of the cities of the older Hellenic land.

As in the former case the contrast, so in this case the analogy, is so striking that we again cannot help asking whether those who brought in the modern phrase of “Greater Britain” ever had it in their minds? One point of unlikeness however must be mentioned. By “Greater Britain” seems now to be commonly meant the whole aggregate of the scattered colonies and dependencies of the Great or Lesser Britain—those names have in the new use become synonymous—all over the world. But the name Greater Greece by no means took in all the scattered Greek colonies all over the world; it was confined to a single group of them. The name seems hardly to have spread from Southern Italy even to the neighbouring island of Sicily; it was certainly never applied to the Greek settlements in Asia or Libya or any other part of the world. Indeed the name had a peculiar fitness as applied to the Greek6 settlements in Southern Italy which it could not have had elsewhere. The geographical structure of the land enabled Southern Italy to put on the character of a second Greece in a way in which none other among the lands in which Greeks settled could put it on. Everywhere else out of old Greece there was merely a Greek fringe along the coast. For the Greek settlements were planted mainly on islands and promontories, along the coasts of solid continents the inland parts of which remained barbarian. Even in Sicily the Greek settlements strictly so called were little more than a fringe; the inland parts of the island did indeed in the end become Greek; but it was not by real Greek settlement, but by the spread of the Greek tongue and of Greek culture among men of other nations who became Greek by adoption. In Southern Italy alone, the shape of the land, branching off into two narrow peninsulas, enabled Greek settlement to become something more than a fringe on the coast, and to spread, as in the older Greek land, from sea to sea.

7 Thus then there were two lands, an older and a newer, in which it might be said, at all events at the first aspect, that the whole land was Greek. No doubt there was this difference, that in the older Greece all was, as far as we can see, Greek in the strictest sense, while in the younger Greece much was Greek only by assimilation and adoption. In the older Greece, if any relics lived on from times and people older than the first Hellenic settlements, they had been assimilated to the Greek mass before recorded history began. The existence in old Greece of any people earlier than the Greeks is matter of legend, of guess, of scientific inference, not matter of direct evidence. In the younger Greece of the Italian colonies, the existence of earlier inhabitants whom the Greeks found in possession, and who long lived on by the side of the Greeks, is as certain as the existence of earlier inhabitants in our own American and Australian colonies. But the earlier inhabitants whom the Greek settlers found in Southern Italy were indeed unlike those whom the English settlers found8 in America and Australia. Not very far removed, so some have thought, from the Greeks in blood, in any case belonging to the same great branch of the human family, the nations of the extreme south of Italy, like their neighbours of Sicily, had a special power of adapting themselves to Greek ways, of adopting Greek culture, of making themselves in short Greeks by adoption. They did not die out before the new settlers, like the savages of America or Australia; they were able to rise to the higher civilization of the strangers who settled down among them, and to become members of the same body. This is one of the most marked differences between the old Greek settlements and the settlements of modern Europeans. The settlements of different European nations have taken different courses, but there has been nothing exactly answering to the process by which so large a part of the barbarian neighbours of the old Greek colonies became adopted Hellênes. In the case of our own settlements, the spread of British settlement or dominion has9 meant either the gradual dying out of the native races, as in America or Australia, or else, as in India, their survival as a distinct and subject people. In no case have English settlers mingled to any important extent with the native races; in no case have the natives to any great extent put on the outward seeming of Englishmen. Something more like this result has taken place in the colonies of Spain. There the mingled race, the natives of unmixed race who have adopted at least the Spanish tongue, are important elements which have nothing answering to them in the colonies of England. The nearest approach to these elements to be found in any English colony must be looked for in the grotesque imitation of English ways where real assimilation is impossible. This we see, not on the part of the barbarians whom the English settlers found dwelling in the settled lands, but on the part of another race of barbarians whom they afterwards imported for their own ends. The negro of the Western continent and islands has truly nothing10 answering to him in any part of the Hellenic world. And, in the other case, while the process which made Sicily and Southern Italy Greek was mainly the raising of the older inhabitants to a higher level, the process which has made a large part of America in some sort Spanish has been largely the sinking of the European settler to a lower level. In the Greek and in the English case, it has been the higher civilization of the time that has been extended, and that by milder means in the Greek case than in the English. In the Spanish case we can hardly say that the highest civilization has been extended. If one race has risen, the other has fallen. This result nowhere took place in the Greek settlements, even where the Greek settlers, while communicating so much to the older inhabitants, did adopt something from them back again. On the whole, the work was a work of raising, not of sinking; but it is needful to remember that, when we speak of the narrow peninsulas of Southern Italy becoming Greek from sea to sea, we mean that they largely11 became Greek by the adoption of the earlier inhabitants into the Greek body. When we speak of the vast mainland of North America becoming wholly European, mainly English, from Ocean to Ocean, we mean that it has become so, not by the adoption of the earlier people by invaders who were also teachers, but by the gradual vanishing of the earlier people before invaders who to them at least have been destroyers.

Now this difference is one that follows directly from the difference in scale between the world in which the old Greek settlers lived and the world in which modern European nations live. This difference in scale is a thing which we must remember at every step. The Greek, in planting his settlements round the coasts of his own Mediterranean Sea, had nowhere to deal with races of men so utterly unlike his own as the races with whom modern Europeans have had to deal in planting their settlements in the islands and continents of the Ocean. Those12 among whom the Greek settled were mainly men of the same great family as himself, men capable of being raised, by a swifter or slower process, to his own level. His world did indeed take in, as ours does, nations of ancient and rival civilizations altogether distinct from his own, but it was not among those nations that he planted his colonies. Where the Egyptian had dwelled from an immemorial antiquity, where the Phœnician had planted his abiding colonies in the first dawn of European history, there the Greek in his best days never settled; Egypt did in the end become in some sort part of the Greek world; but it was not by settlement from free Greece, but by the conquests of the Macedonian kings. Egypt under the Ptolemies was like India now, a land conquered but not, strictly speaking, colonized, a land in which the older nation kept on its own older life alongside of the intruding life of the younger settlers. But it marks the narrow area of the old Greek world, that Egypt, in some sort its India, in some sort its China, came within the physical13 limits of that world; it was a land whose shores were washed by the same waters that washed the shores of Hellas. This difference of scale must never be forgotten while we are comparing or contrasting the days of old Greece with our days. But while we ever bear in mind the difference, we must ever beware of being led away by the misleading inferences which shallow talkers have often drawn from that difference. The nature of man is the same, whether he has a wider or a narrower sphere for his work; and the narrower sphere has some advantages over the wider. It is in small communities, in commonwealths of a single city, where men are brought closer together than in greater states, where every man has a personal share in the political life of the community, that the faculties of man are raised to the highest level and sharpened to the finest point. It is, from a political point of view, the great merit of modern scientific discoveries that they have enabled the people of a great community, of a kingdom or commonwealth covering a great space, to have that14 direct personal knowledge of the political life of the community of which they are members, that direct personal share in it, which once could not be had save where the state was confined to the territory of a single city. Instead of despising earlier times because they had not printing and railways and telegraphs, let us rather say that printing and railways and telegraphs were needed to raise large states to the level of small ones. By means of those inventions the Englishman of our day has become far more like an Athenian of the age of Periklês than his forefathers were in any earlier time. A hundred years ago, even fifty years ago, the utmost the ordinary Englishman could do was now and then to give a vote, if he chanced to have one, at a parliamentary election, and to read or hear the most meagre accounts of what was going on in Parliament and elsewhere in public life. Very few Englishmen ever saw or heard Walpole or Pulteney, Pitt or Fox. Now the whole land has well-nigh become a single city; we see and hear our leading men15 almost daily; they walk before us as the leaders of the Athenian democracy walked before their fellow-citizens; they take us into their counsels; they appeal to us as their judges; we have in short a share in political life only less direct than the share of the Athenian freeman, a share which our forefathers, even two or three generations back, never dreamed of. But without the help of modern scientific discoveries, this active share in public affairs on the part of the mass of the inhabitants of a large country would have been simply a dream. Or look at a matter which more directly concerns the immediate subject of this discourse, look at the vast developement of English political life in the great English land beyond the Ocean; can any man believe that a hundred years back Maine, Florida, and California could have been kept together as a political whole by any power short of a despotism? Could those distant lands have acted as parts of one free political body, if they had had no means of intercourse with one another swifter than the speed of a horse? It is by the16 help of modern discoveries that the federal systems of old Greece can be reproduced on a gigantic scale, that a single Union of states can embrace a continent stretching from Ocean to Ocean instead of a peninsula stretching from sea to sea. In short, instead of despising those ancient communities which were the earliest form of European political life, we should rejoice that in many things we have gone back to the earliest form of European political life, that the discoveries of modern times have enabled the free states of old times to arise again, but to arise again, no longer on the scale of cities but on the scale of nations.

When then we compare the colonial system of modern times, like any other feature of modern political life, with the thing answering to it in the political life of the old Greek city-commonwealths, we must never forget the difference of area on which the political life of the two periods has been acted; but we must never allow ourselves to fancy that difference of area, any more than distance of time, wholly shuts us off from political fellowship17 with those earlier times or makes their experience of none effect for our political instruction. The communities of those days were cities, the communities of our days are nations; but cities and nations alike share in a common political life in which many of the ages that went between their days and ours had no share. The Greek settlements, like the Phœnician settlements before them, were settlements of cities, not of nations, not of kingdoms or of commonwealths on the scale of kingdoms. Till the political needs of a later age taught the Greek that several cities might be combined in a federal union, his whole political life had gathered round the single independent city as its essential unit. Every Greek city was not independent; but every Greek city deemed itself wronged if it was not independent; when its independence was lost, it was, within all Hellenic lands, lost by the rule of city over city. And the rule of city over city, if it took away the independence of the subject city as an equal power among other powers, did not18 wipe out its essential character as a separate city-commonwealth. The dependent city was not incorporated like an annexed land; it was not held in bondage like a subject province; it remained a city, with more or less of freedom in its local affairs, though bound, as against other powers, to follow the lead of the ruling city. The city was all in all; the smallness of the community, the narrowness of its area, brought every citizen face to face with his fellows and his leaders; it brought with it a fulness of political life, an extension of political power and political interests to every citizen, to which larger states have reached only by painful steps and by help of the inventions which have in some sort made time and distance cease to be. The Greek was before all things a citizen; his political life was wholly local; his powers and duties as a citizen could be discharged only in his own city, on some spot hallowed by old tradition, and hallowed most commonly in the more formal sense by the abiding presence and guardianship of the19 patron deity. He felt in the strongest sense the tie of membership of a community, the tie of all the duties which spring from membership of a community. For his city he would live and toil and die, but he would live and toil and die for it, because it was the whole of which he was himself a part. He owed faith and loyalty to his city—loyalty in its true and ancient sense of obeying the law, the law which he might be called on to help to administer, which he might, in some rare case, be called on to help to change. He might keep that faith and loyalty far away from his own city by doing all that he could in foreign lands for the interest and honour of that city. But in no other sense could he carry his citizenship with him beyond the bounds of the territory of his city; elsewhere he might act as a soldier or as an envoy, but hardly in the strictest sense as a citizen. The tie was local; the duty was local; of a personal tie of allegiance binding him to a personal superior, bringing with it personal20 duties which should everywhere dog his steps, which could not be cast off in any corner of the world—of loyalty in that sense, the old Greek, the old Phœnician, had never any thought in his mind.

The change in the meaning of the word “loyalty” well marks that leading political characteristic of modern Europe which stands out in the fullest contrast to the political thoughts of the ancient commonwealths. Loyalty, once simply legalitas, obedience to the law, has for ages meant—when it has not meant something far baser—no longer obedience to the law, no longer duty to a community as a community, but faith and duty owed by one man to another man. It may be simply the personal duty of a man to his lord, the tie of chosen or hereditary comradeship, the tie known by the oldest Greek and by the oldest German, an ennobling tie indeed as regards the man himself, a tie which may lead to lofty prowess or to pure self-sacrifice, the tie of the true companions of Brihtnoth on the day21 of Maldon, when on the place of slaughter each man lay thegn-like, his lord hard by. Or it may take the less poetic, the more political shape, in which the thought of the commonwealth does come in, but where the commonwealth is perhaps overshadowed by its chief, perhaps only embodied in him. The notion of personal allegiance, a notion which could have been hardly understood by either the aristocratic or the democratic Greek, has been the essence of the political system of Europe for many ages. It is a notion which grows up as naturally in a kingdom as the other notion, the notion of duty to the community, grows up in a commonwealth which knows no abiding personal head. It by no means shuts out the notion of duty to the community; but, as has been just now implied, it has a tendency to overshadow it. In the higher types of the class, in the French nobles, for instance, under the old monarchy, the feeling of personal loyalty, of devotion to the particular man who wore the crown, perhaps22 reached its highest point since the days of the old Greek and Teutonic comradeship. It was a feeling that was by no means wholly degrading; but it tended to put in the shade, if not wholly to crush out, feelings higher and worthier. Men looked so much to the King of France, they looked so much on France as embodied in his person, that there was small room left in their thoughts for France herself, for France as embodied in her people. Since kingdoms have put on more nearly the practical shape of commonwealths, this extravagant devotion to a single man has been somewhat toned down, and more room is gained for feelings coming nearer to those which were felt in a free democracy of old. But the radical distinction still remains between the leading political ideas of the state which acknowledges a prince as its sovereign and the state which knows no sovereign but the commonwealth itself. The primary and formal duty of the member of a state that acknowledges a prince, a duty to which in many cases he is bound by direct personal promises, is a personal duty to a23 person. It is a duty which he cannot throw off under any circumstances of time and place; it follows him wherever he goes; on the most distant foreign soil he remains the subject of the prince in whose dominions he drew his breath. While the active duties of the citizen of a commonwealth can hardly be discharged beyond the territories of that commonwealth, the duties of the subject of a king, the subject, that is, of a personal master, are as binding on one part of the earth’s surface as on another. I have just used words which go to the root of the matter. I have used the words “citizen” and “subject.” The difference between the two conceptions can nowhere put on a more living shape than in the use of those two names. The Greek would have deemed himself degraded by the name of “subject.” To him the word that best translates it expressed the position of men who, either in their own persons or in the person of the cities to which they belonged, were shorn of the common rights of every city, of every citizen. We use the word “subject” daily without24 any feeling of being lowered by it. It has become so familiar that it is assumed as the natural phrase to express membership of a political body, and it is often used when it is quite out of place. I once read, and that in a formal document, of a “Swiss subject,” and I had the pleasure of explaining that there had been no subjects, no Unterthanen, in Switzerland since 17981. And the question comes, What are we to say instead? “Swiss citizen,” “French citizen,” “citizen of the United States,” have this awkwardness about them that the community whose membership they express is not a city. The very awkwardness points to the main difference between the world of old Hellas and the world of modern Europe, the difference in scale. Be it kingdom or be it commonwealth, the state with which modern politics have to deal is not a city but something vastly greater.

Now there is no branch of political life on which25 these distinctions tell with greater force than on the work of planting new homes of any people beyond the sea. The colonies, the settlements, the plantations, of that elder world whose range of settlement was the Mediterranean were settlements of citizens who set forth from cities. The colonies, the settlements, the plantations of the newer world whose range of settlement has been the Ocean have been mainly settlements of subjects who set forth from kingdoms. Hence, while in almost every other point the two systems of settlement are so wonderfully alike, in all those points which immediately follow from this essential deference they stand utterly aloof from each other. The men who planted Greater Greece—whether we mean thereby the land once really so called or any other part of the Greek colonial world—were citizens of cities. The men who planted Greater Britain, if so we are to call it, like the men who planted Greater Portugal, Greater Spain, or Greater France, were subjects of kingdoms. There is but one exception. The colonies of the United Netherlands were26 colonies planted by a commonwealth, and of all European colonies they have departed most widely from the old Greek model. But though colonies of a commonwealth, though colonies of a commonwealth in which cities played the chief part, they could hardly be called colonies of cities. They were colonies of a great confederation, of an aristocratic confederation, which had in many things more in common with kingdoms than with independent cities. They were colonies planted in a colonial world in which the colonies of kingdoms had set the model. The kingdom then, and not the commonwealth, has been the essential colonizing element in modern Europe. The colonies of modern Europe have been in the main colonies of subjects, not of citizens. Each alike, citizen and subject, carried with him that form of political life which was natural to each. The Greek colonist, citizen of a city, planted a city. Severed from his native city, severed perhaps by such a world of waters as that which parts Euboia from Sicily or by such a wider world of waters as27 parts Phôkaia from Gaul, he could no longer remain a citizen of his own city; he could no longer discharge the duties of citizenship on a distant spot; he could no longer join in the debates of the old agorê; he could no longer join in the worship of the old temple; but he must still have some agorê and some temple; he must still have a city to dwell in, a city in which still to dwell the life of a free Greek, when he could no longer live that life in the city of his birth. So he planted a city, a free city, a city that knew no lord, that knew no ruling city, a city furnished from the first with all that was needed for the life of a Greek commonwealth, a city free and independent from its birth. And he dwelled in the new city as he had once dwelled in the old; he gave himself to make the new worthy of the old, the daughter worthy of the mother. But did he thereby deem that he had ceased to be a Greek? Did he deem that he had severed himself from Greece? Did he even deem that he had broken off from all duty and fellowship28 towards the city from whence he had set forth? No; dwell where he might, the Greek remained a Greek; wherever he went he carried Hellas with him; in Asia, in Libya, in Sicily, in Italy, in Gaul, far away by the pillars that guarded the mouth of Ocean, far away in the inmost recesses of the Inhospitable Sea, wherever he trod, a new Hellas, if we will, a Greater Hellas, sprang into being; on those new shores of Hellas he kept his old Hellenic heart, his old Hellenic fellowship; he still kept the tongue and customs of his folk; he clave to the gods of his folk; he could go to the old land and consult their oracles, he could claim his place in their sacred games, as freely as if he still dwelled by the banks of the Spartan Eurôtas or under the shadow of the holy rock of Athens. And how fared he towards the city of his birth, the metropolis, the mother-city of his new home, the birthplace and cradle of himself and his fellow-citizens of his new city? Political tie none remained; no such tie could remain among a system of cities. Parent and29 child were on the political side necessarily parted; the colonist could exercise no political rights in the mother-city, nor did the mother-city put forward any claim to be lady and mistress of her distant daughter. Still the love, the reverence, due to a parent was never lacking. The tie of memory, the tie of kindred, the tie of religion, were of themselves so strong that no tie of political allegiance was needed to make them stronger. The sacred fire on the hearth of the new city was kindled from the hearth of its mother; the parent was honoured with fitting honours, her gods were honoured with fitting offerings; her citizens were welcomed as elder brethren when they visited the younger city. And when the child itself became a parent, when the new city itself sent forth its colonies, the mother-city of all was prayed to share in the work and to send forth elder brethren of her own stock to be leaders in the enterprise of her children.

In truth the ordinary story of the relations between a Greek colony and its metropolis,30 relations that is between a perfectly independent state and another state to which it looks up with traditional reverence, is perhaps the most attractive feature of Greek political life. The history of the relations between Corinth and Syracuse is a pleasing tale throughout. During all the centuries of the joint independence of the two cities, the relations between the metropolis and its great colony are ever fresh, ever friendly. The Syracusan is not a Corinthian; the sea that rolls between Ortygia and the Isthmus forbids that. But he never forgets that he is a child of Corinth, a child of Peloponnêsos; he cleaves with pride to the local speech of his fathers; he cherishes the worship of the gods and heroes of the city of his fathers, their names and their legends live on his lips; Syracuse may grow into a greater and mightier city than her parent; but that Corinth is the parent is a thought that never dies out from any Syracusan heart. Yet the child is free and independent, free and independent from its beginning. Corinth makes not the slightest claim to authority31 or superiority over Syracuse; but she is ever ready to step in when any need on the part of Syracuse calls for her help; she steps in as bound to something which to her is dearer and more recked of than the most cherished among allies who are not her children. The mother-city steps in alike when Syracuse is pressed by foreign enemies and when she is torn by domestic seditions. She acts as a mediator between Syracuse and her foes; she shelters alike her banished patriots, her banished tyrant, even the foreign enemy whom Syracuse has spared and has given to her mother’s keeping. And, a gift precious above all, she sends her own deliverer to be in turn the deliverer of his brethren. And this friendship between Corinth and Syracuse is no friendship that stands alone; it is the common tie which binds Greek metropolis and Greek colony to one another. And all this becomes the more striking when we come to compare the tale of Corinth and Syracuse with some really exceptional cases in which the relations of metropolis and colony32 were less amiable. Strange to say, we can find them in the history of this very Corinth and this very Syracuse. No War of Independence, no Declaration of Independence, was ever needed between Corinth and Syracuse, because Syracuse was from the beginning independent of her metropolis, and therefore friendly to her metropolis. But perhaps a declaration of independence, certainly a war of independence, was needed between Corinth and Korkyra, between Syracuse and Kamarina. In each of those cases the metropolis did claim some measure of authority over the colony. The fruit of this departure from the common system of Greek settlement was that abiding ill-will between Korkyra and her parent Corinth which stands out among the best known facts of Grecian history. And yet perhaps in the only case where we see Corinth and Korkyra acting together in friendly guise, it shows that something of the better, the more usual, feeling was not wholly banished from Corinthian and Korkyraian hearts; we once see the two cities join to do the duty of a parent33 and a sister as mediators on behalf of Syracuse against an enemy. As for the other less famous case, we read that Kamarina, a colony of Syracuse, revolted against her metropolis and was swept from the earth as a punishment. The doom was heavy; the fault may have been grave; but between Corinth and Syracuse, between Phôkaia and Massalia, there was no room for revolt or for its penalties.

Thus the old Greek citizen, in his settlements beyond the sea, founded cities, cities free and independent from the beginning. Let us see now what the modern European colonist, subject of a kingdom, has founded. He has founded settlements of very various kinds in different cases; but he has nowhere founded free and independent cities, like the Greek and the Phœnician before him. Cities indeed in one sense he has founded, vast and mighty cities, busy seats of arts and industry and commerce, but not cities in the elder sense, cities independent from their birth, cities that are born the political equals of the mightiest34 kingdoms. Cities like these the subject of a kingdom, bound wherever he goes to remain the subject of a kingdom, can never found. But what can be found instead? He cannot, in the nature of things, found kingdoms; it is the essence of his being that he and all that he has should remain part of an existing kingdom. His first act on entering an unknown land is to declare it to be part of the dominions of the prince from whose territories he has set forth. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, he is tied and hampered by the necessity of abiding in the allegiance of his original sovereign. It is wonderful to see how near some of the founders of modern European settlements came to the creation of really independent states. A slender line indeed distinguished the elder colonies of New England from states absolutely independent. The interference of the mother-country was, in many times and places, slight indeed. Still the final step was never taken; they were not absolutely and formally independent states, like the old settlements35 of Greece and Phœnicia. As all the world knows, even those settlements where local freedom was fullest, those which came most nearly to the level of actual independence, needed a Declaration of Independence, a War of Independence, to raise them to its full level. The settlements of modern Europe have not conformed to the pattern of Syracuse and Massalia; they have followed the exceptional pattern of Korkyra and Kamarina. In Greek Asia then, in Greek Sicily, in the Greater Greece itself on the forked peninsulas of Italy, we see a gathering of Greek settlements, each a free and independent city, each as a free and independent city carrying on its own political life, its questions, its disputes, perhaps its wars, with some fellow city; but all alike Greek, all glorying in the Hellenic name, all looking back to old Hellas as the motherland, each looking to its own mother-city, not with the dread of a subject, not with the helplessness of a child still in tutelage, but with the manly deference of a child of full age, whose reverence36 for his parent is none the less because he is no longer a member of the household. By way of contrast to that national life abiding in a new land, we see, in vast regions of the American continent, lands which once were English, which once were Spanish, which are still English and Spanish as far as common blood and speech and history can make them so, but which have ceased to be English or Spanish as political communities, and which grudgingly acknowledge the English or Spanish name. We see lands that parted in wrath from the motherland, and by whom the wrath of that parting has not wholly been forgotten. We see lands whose independence, instead of growing from the beginning with the good will of a watchful parent, has been won by the sword from the grasp of a parent who strove to keep her children in subjection. And all this has been the direct and necessary result of the theory of political life which the founders of those English and Spanish settlements carried with them. Subjects of a kingdom could do no otherwise;37 the theory of an allegiance which could never be cast aside obliged their settlements to become provinces, dependencies, whatever name is chosen, of the motherland. They could not found an independent kingdom any more than they could found an independent city. Dependence, tighter or slacker, was the necessity of the case. But it was no less in the necessity of the case that a day should come when even the slackest form of dependence could be borne no longer. That these colonies “are and ought to be free and independent states” was a voice which could not fail to be heard some day in Massachusetts and Virginia; there was no need for it ever to be heard in Syracuse or in Sybaris; for no man doubted their freedom and independence from the day of their first founding.

The mention of the independent colonies of England, those which, by the necessity of the Colonial system of modern Europe, were driven to win their independence by the sword, suggests one question of no small moment for our present38 inquiry. Does this popular phrase of “Greater Britain” take in, or does it not take in, the United States of America? I say the popular phrase, because, as the phrase was first used by the writer who I believe invented it, who certainly gave it its first currency, it undoubtedly did take in the United States. But I am not at all certain whether it does or does not in the vague and lax way in which the phrase is now often used to add a flourish to a period. Now if the phrase “Greater Britain” does not take in the United States, it is certainly somewhat strange to shut out from that name the mightiest offshoot of the English folk. If it is meant to take them in, I am afraid that we may sometimes be met with a little unwillingness on the part of those whom we would fain welcome within our pale. There is the speaking fact, that, while the Greek of Spain or of the Tauric Chersonêsos never doubted as to his being a Greek, the Englishman even of New England sometimes but grudgingly allows himself to be an Englishman. This is the result39 of parting in anger; under the Greek system, there was no room for parting at all. To the Greek colonist the names of the motherland from which he had set forth, of the folk from which he did not sever himself in setting forth from that motherland, suggested simple brotherhood, without a thought of subjection or dependence. To the descendant of English settlers in America, citizen, of a vast commonwealth of English blood and English speech, the English name has come to suggest—it is hard to say what, but something which the Greek name did not suggest to the citizen of any Greek settlement beyond the sea. He may accept it; but he accepts it with a kind of effort, with a kind of second thoughts. The fact is that the notion of allegiance has for some centuries taken such root in men’s minds, it has become so thoroughly the leading idea of political life, it has become so largely the definition of a separate political community, that the English name has come, on both sides of the Ocean, to carry with it some lurking flavour40 of necessary allegiance to the English crown. The Englishman of America shrinks from calling himself an Englishman, lest that name should unwittingly imply an allegiance which his forefathers cast off. The Englishman of Britain shrinks from bestowing the English name on the Englishman of America, lest he should seem to be wounding the national pride of a people the very root of whose political life was the denial of all English political allegiance. Neither side seem able freely to grasp the truth that was so clear to the mind of every Greek, the truth that two or many communities may be wholly distinct for every political purpose, and may yet be members of one nation for every other purpose of national life. I ask again, Do the United States of America come under the definition of “Greater Britain”? If I rightly understand the use of the phrase, “Greater Britain” is sometimes held to have the same meaning as the phrase “British Empire.” If so, then assuredly the United States of America41 do not come, and do not seek to come, within such a definition as that. But sometimes the phrase of “Greater Britain” seems rather to be used as bearing the same meaning as another phrase that we sometimes hear, that of “the Federation of the English-speaking People.” Now the people of the United States of America surely form so large a part of the English-speaking people that a federation which is meant to take in all the branches of that people is strangely imperfect if it leaves out a branch so great and so fruitful as that which has spread the English tongue from Ocean to Ocean.

Again, if the phrase “Greater Britain” is held to be equivalent, not to the federation of the English-speaking people but to the “British Empire,” then another difficulty meets us. The Imperial state of all, that Empire of India set alone in its august rank above the mere kingdoms of lowlier Europe, may indeed be looked on as the head and front of the Imperial power of Britain; it can hardly be looked on as itself42 a Greater Britain. Greek Kings, at any rate Macedonian Kings, once ruled from Pharos to Syênê, from the shores of the Ægæan to the banks of the Indus, yet no man would ever have applied the name of Greater Greece, or even of Greater Macedonia, to the Greek dominion over Egypt and the East. The Greater Greece in Italy was Greater Greece because it had truly become Greek. The Greek dominion in Egypt and the East could not be said to form a Greater Greece, because those lands never became Greek; they received at most a Greek fringe, a Greek veneer, a slight outer garment of Hellenism spread over an essentially barbarian body. And if Egypt or Asia was not Greater Greece, surely India is Greater Britain still less. There is there no abiding British element drawing to it the science, the learning, the whole art and skill of the British world. For if Asia and Egypt never became Greek, yet within their borders Alexandria and Antioch became renowned as the greatest of Greek colonies, the courts of kings,43 the universities of scholars, the centres of the intellectual life of Greece when its political life was shrinking up within narrow bounds indeed. Greece looked elsewhere for her greater self, and Britain cannot fail to look elsewhere for her greater self, and not where the influence of Britain takes the shape, so largely of dominion, so slightly of assimilation. All that I am asking for is clearness of speech; I seek to have words well defined, and that is all. I do not profess myself to define the phrase “Greater Britain;” I only remark that, if it is held to be the same as the “British Empire,” it cannot be the same as the “Federation of English-speaking people;” and that if it be either the one or the other, certain consequences would seem to follow which it seems to me are now and then forgotten.

But one thing is certain. If the phrase “Greater Britain” answers to “federation of the English-speaking people,” if it takes in the English-speaking people of the United States of America, it also takes in great communities of English-44speaking people in America, Australasia, Africa, and other parts of the islands and continents of the Ocean, which are not in the same political condition as the United States. Herein comes a great political problem, which never presented itself to any mind in the old colonizing days of Phœnicia and Greece, and which never presented itself to any mind in modern Europe till quite lately. The older state of things was familiar with distant and scattered settlements which none the less formed a national whole, but which stood in no political relation either to one another or to the mother-cities from whence they were settled. The later state of things was no less familiar with distant and scattered settlements, perhaps forming a national whole, perhaps not, but in either case united to the mother-country, the ruling country, by a common tie of dependence. The fact that so many European colonies which were held in this relation have parted asunder from the states on which they were dependent, the great45 case of all, the winning of independence by thirteen American colonies of England, the wonderful growth of those colonies in their new character as independent states, has for a long time past drawn men’s minds to the relations between mother-country and colony. The relation once so common in the modern world, the relation of mere dependence, sometimes almost of bondage, is no longer maintained on any hand. In the chief colonies of Great Britain at all events, every care has been taken, while keeping the relation of dependence, to make dependence as little irksome as may be. The fullest local freedom has been given; dependence has in appearance sunk to little more than the retention of a common allegiance to a common sovereign. Of late keener eyes have seen somewhat more clearly what has lurked beneath this, at first sight, very pleasing relation. In its internal affairs the colony is, in all seeming, as free as the mother-country; I say in all seeming, because even in the freest46 colonial constitutions there is still a certain hidden power which may ever and anon step forth in a way in which it never can step forth again in the mother-country. And the fullest independence in local affairs cannot wholly put out of sight the fact that in all strictly national affairs the freest of colonies is as dependent as ever. The greatest and freest of colonies may at any moment find itself plunged into a war which may suit the interests or the fancies of the people of Great Britain, but which may in no way suit the interests or the fancies of the people of the colony. It is to meet this difficulty that schemes have been of late largely proposed for bringing about a nearer union between the mother-country and the colonies, and that in some shape other than that of dependence. Mother-country and colonies are to form one political whole, but a political whole in which no member is to claim superiority, or at any rate authority, over any other. I am not now arguing for or against such a scheme;47 this is not the place to do so. I wish simply, as a matter of accuracy of thought, to put some questions as to what is really meant, so that we may fully understand what it is that we are talking about. And I wish further, by way of historical inference, to point out some facts which may perchance be helpful in making up our minds on the subject which we are talking about.

I would therefore ask again, Do “Greater Britain,” “Imperial Federation,” “Federation of the English-speaking People,” mean one thing or two or three? The difficulty is that a great part of what it is fashionable to call “the British Empire” does not consist of English-speaking people, and that a large part of the English-speaking people do not form part of the “British Empire.” The existence of India, the existence of the United States, surround us with difficulties at every step. Then again, What is Imperial Federation? If it is Imperial, how is it Federal? If it is Federal, how is it48 Imperial? Is the present German Empire to be the type? That is in a certain sense an Imperial Federation, because its chief bears the title of Emperor. But then some may think that it is too Imperial to be exactly Federal; some may think that the position of some of its smaller members does not practically differ very much from a position of dependence. One cannot help thinking that the colony of Victoria, though it is still a dependency, enjoys more of practical independence than the duchy of Oldenburg, which is a sovereign state. Does the Imperial Federation take in India or not? Let us be careful how we answer. If the Empire of India is left out of the Federation, how is the Federation Imperial? I am not sure that I always know the exact meaning of the words “Empire” and “Imperial;” but there is one part of the Queen’s dominions, and one only, in which she bears the title of Empress, and it would be strange if, in forming the Queen’s dominions into an Imperial Federation, her one Imperial possession49 should be the only part of her dominions which is left out. But if, on the other hand, the Empire of India is taken into the Federation, if all its inhabitants receive, as surely they must receive, the same federal rights as the inhabitants of other parts of the Federation, then we may be allowed to ask, how the Federation of which the Empire of India is a part will be a Federation of the English-speaking people or a Federation at all. The area and population of the Empire of India are so great that, in its federal aspect, as the state or canton of India, it will hold a place in the Imperial Federation of Greater Britain at least as overwhelming as Prussia now holds in the Imperial Federation of Germany. Where would Great Britain be, where would Australia or Canada or South Africa be, alongside of such a yoke-fellow? It will be a serious question in such a case what is to become of the white-skinned, European, Christian, minority, outvoted, as it must always be, by millions on millions of dark-skinned Mussulmans50 and Hindoos who can hardly be reckoned among the English-speaking people. I am not arguing for or against all this; it may be the right thing for so small an island as ours to be taught its fitting place in the world. I only ask whether those who talk about “Imperial Federation” have always stopped to think exactly what they mean by the words. And I would ask whether the only scheme which would seem to be correctly described by the name of Imperial Federation could be sung or said, with any degree of harmony, to the tune of “Rule Britannia.”

Of course it may be that the tune of “Rule Britannia” may have come to mean the rule, not of the Great, but of the Greater Britain. Only we are again followed by the difficulty of settling what the Greater Britain is. India and its Empire are, to say the least, a puzzle. But passing by that difficulty for a moment, there is to be in any case a Federation of some kind, a Federation of very scattered members, members which have hitherto looked up to a common parent as their abiding51 head, in truth their abiding ruler. And now that head, that ruler, is asked to do what no ruling state in the world has ever been asked to do. I feel certain that not a few of those who talk about an Imperial Federation of the English-speaking people use those words as having, perhaps a high-sounding, perhaps a patriotic ring, but without ever stopping to think what the words which they use, if they imply anything, really do imply. Yet the word “Federation” has a meaning. Different federations may take, and have taken, very different shapes, but, if they are to be federations at all, one thing is of the very essence. The states that unite to make the federation, while they keep certain powers in their own hands, give up certain other powers to a central body, a body which speaks and acts in the name, not of this or that state, but of the whole body of states. And the powers that they give up to this central body are those powers which are strictly national, those in the exercise of which the nation, as such, comes across the other nations and powers of the world.52 This nation, any other nation, cannot have any dealings with the State of New York; all its dealings must be with the United States of America. Now we, this kingdom of Great Britain, have been for a good while accustomed to hold the same position in the world as the United States of America, and we have been withal accustomed to hold it for a much longer time than the United States of America have. Are we willing to give up this position, and to sink to the position of the State of New York or the State of Delaware? For this is what Federation really means. Some other conceivable form of union may conceivably mean something else; but it is Federation that is talked of, and this is what Federation means. Hitherto the Parliament of Great Britain, that is the King, Lords, and Commons of Great Britain, has been a sovereign assembly, an assembly which knows no superior on earth and which knows no limit to the range of its powers. If Great Britain becomes one member of a Federation alongside of the British colonies in Australia and Canada, the53 Parliament of Great Britain will cease to be all this; it will become a subordinate legislature, like the legislature of the State of Rhode Island or of the Canton of Schwyz, a legislature which can deal only with its own subordinate range of subjects, and may not meddle with that higher range of subjects which it has given over to the Federal power. The question indeed may further arise whether any Great Britain, any Parliament of Great Britain, should be allowed to remain at all. It may be thought fairer, nay, it may even be in the interest of Great Britain itself as getting it more votes in the Federal body, that Great Britain should no more be heard of, and that England, Scotland, and Wales, nay, for ought I know, Wessex and Mercia, Lothian and Gwynedd, should all enter the Union as separate States. I am not arguing for or against all this. I only again ask whether those who talk about Imperial Federation have always weighed all these chances, and also how far any of them is consistent with the tune of “Rule Britannia.”

54 As a matter of fact, no real Federation was ever formed in this fashion—for I cannot look on the modern German Empire as a Federation in more than form. The chief Federations of the world have been formed in quite another way. A number of small states, in face of some greater power that threatened them, each needing the help of its fellows against the common enemy, have agreed, while still keeping each one its separate being, to become one state for all purposes that touch their relations to other powers. This description suits all the main federations of the world, old and new. In forming such federations, it is plain that each member gives up somewhat of its formal rank as an absolutely independent state. But this small self-lowering is more than outweighed by the far greater security that it gains for preserving independence in any shape. It is quite another case when a great power, an ancient power, a ruling power, is asked to come down from its place, to rank for the future simply as one55 member alongside of its own dependencies, even though most of those dependencies are its own children. For this, it must be remembered, and nothing else, is what Federation really means. And it is what no ruling power on earth has ever yet consented to, and what we may suspect that no ruling power ever will consent to. This process must not be confounded with another form of union, which is perfectly conceivable, but which is wholly different, and which is not Federation. Though a ruling state is not likely to stoop to the level of its dependencies, yet many a ruling state has found it wise to incorporate its dependencies in its own body. The growth of the Roman Empire, by gradually admitting one class of dependencies after another to the full Roman franchise, is the great example of all. By this process the ruling state gives up nothing; it simply admits others, not so much to its own level as into its own substance. The ruling state does not sink; the dependencies, as separate communities, neither rise nor sink; as communities they cease to exist; but their citizens56 or subjects are raised to the level of citizens or subjects of the ruling power. If any one should propose, not that Great Britain and her dependencies should enter into a Federation, but that the United Kingdom should absorb its dependencies, that their inhabitants should all be represented in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, any objection to such a scheme as this would be objections of quite another kind from the objections which beset the scheme of Federation. The difficulty of carrying out such a scheme is almost wholly a physical one. Can such distant and scattered elements be thus joined together in a political body one and indivisible? Have those scientific discoveries of which I spoke earlier in this discourse advanced so far as to annihilate time and distance on such a scale as this? I say nothing either way; I simply wish to point out the difference between two utterly distinct proposals which are likely to be confounded. I add only one warning. Vast territories have been united, both on the Federal system, as in the United States, and on the system57 of more thorough union into a single body, as in the Empire of old Rome. But hitherto they have always been continuous territories. Provinces and states, however distant, have been physically one; they shade off gradually into one another; it is possible to walk from the furthest point at one end to the furthest point at the other. It seems another thing to unite in the same way a mass of territories, not only at vast distances from one another, but utterly isolated. Carthage, Venice, Genoa, have held a scattered dominion of this kind; but it has been merely a dominion. With them there was no federal tie, no political communion of any kind; there was simply the uncontrolled authority of the ruling city. The question is whether federation or any other form of political union is possible among members so widely scattered. It may be true that it takes no longer time now to go from New Zealand to Westminster than it took to go from Shetland to Westminster at the time of the Union of Great Britain. But Shetland and Westminster, though not parts of one continuous58 territory, are parts of one geographical whole. There are no foreign waters to cross, no foreign lands to pass by, on the road between them.

I am not, I must end by again saying, here either to recommend any practical course or to dissuade from any practical course. My business is a lowlier one. One part of it is the pedantic business of calling attention to a process which is very needful before we begin to discuss any practical course, the process of finding out exactly what it is that we have to argue for and against. I am not arguing for or against federation or any other scheme; I simply point out what federation is, and what are the difficulties about it. I am trying to show what is the real meaning of that or of any other word, and thereby to avoid the confusion of thought and often of action which follows when a name which has been long used to mean one thing is suddenly turned about to mean something else. Another part of my business is to suggest real analogies and to warn against false ones. I have referred59 largely to the experience of political communities in ages very distant from our own time and on a scale very different from the political communities of our own time. I wish to point out the real, instructive, practical, likeness which, with a little pains, may be seen through much real and more seeming unlikeness. Above all, I wish to point out that some of the great inventions of modern times, which might at first sight seem to sever us more utterly than ever from those small and ancient commonwealths, have really brought us nearer to them. The great lesson of history is that the nature of man, at any rate of civilized European man, is the same in all times and places, and that there is no time or place whose experience may not supply us with some teaching. But free states naturally supply the best lessons for free states. The difference in scale between the free states of various ages is after all only an accidental difference which does not go to the root of the matter. The difference is largely part of that extension of the area of history which60 follows on the advance of civilized man, that advance in which the creation of Greater Greece in one age and of Greater Britain in another were alike steps. The great thing to remember in these matters is that the men of the earliest days of civilized Europe, the elder brethren of the great historic family of which we ourselves are members, were neither, as men seemed to think a few generations back, beings of a race above us, nor yet, as some seem inclined to think now, beings so far below us, or in a position so unlike our own, that their experience can be of no use to us. Either of these mistakes is alike fatal to a general grasp of that unbroken history of the world of which the earliest days of Greece are one stage and the most modern days of England are another. Above all, instead of despising those days of small communities because of their ignorance of modern inventions which they needed far less than we do, let us rather rejoice that those inventions have brought us who do need them nearer to the political level of those early times. To me at61 least it is some satisfaction that the England in which I now live is palpably more like the Athens of the days of Periklês than was the England in which I was born. And it is beyond doubt the great scientific discoveries of modern times which have largely helped to make it so.


1 While I am revising my proofs, I read, in a law report in an English newspaper, something about “an American subject.”



The day on which we are met is the day that is honoured by a mighty commonwealth of our own blood and speech as the birthday of its founder. It is a day of rejoicing in every home throughout the vastest of English lands, the land where the tongue and laws of England have won for themselves a wider dominion than the Empire of Justinian or of Trajan. From the western brink of that giant stream of Ocean of which the Greek of old heard with wonder to the eastern brink of that further Ocean of which Ptolemy and Strabo never dreamed, the name of a man of English blood, of English speech, bearing the simple name of an English village, is uttered, as on this day, with the same feelings with which the men of elder commonwealths uttered the names of Brutus and63 Timoleôn. The Teutonic clan which, in some unrecorded settlement of our folk, planted on a spot of Northern English soil the obscure name of the Wascingas, dreamed not that the name of their little mark, unrecorded in the annals of the elder England, should become the first of names in a younger and a vaster England, the meeting-place of a wider federation than that which met at Aigion or that which meets at Bern. Still less could they have dreamed that the city which was after twelve hundred years and more to take the name of their new-born township was to take its name because that name had passed as the name of an English house from the banks of the Wear to the banks of the Potomac, to be borne in due succession by that one member of that house who was to make it a name of glory for all ages. From Washington in the bishopric of Durham to Washington in the district of Columbia, the bound is greater, the contrast is more startling, than when we pass from Boston in Holland to Boston in Massachusetts, or even when we pass from64 Melbourne with her three towers in the old land of the Five Boroughs to that Melbourne in the greatest of islands where even the younger Washington may seem ancient. Happy indeed was the luck that the man whose birth we celebrate this day bore by descent from his fathers the good Teutonic name of an English gens and an English township. Under no system of nomenclature but that of our fathers could the name of the township have so simply and naturally become the name of the man, and the name of the man have so simply and naturally become the name of the city. The result would have been less happy if the city had been fated to bear the names of not a few of the comrades and fellow-workers of its own epônymos. The name of the Bernician village and of the man who bore it is at least more in place than the names of some other spots in the same land, spots condemned to bear the name of a Greek island or a Greek poet, of an Egyptian city or a Roman oligarch. The federal capital of the younger England bears a name more truly English65 than the kingly capital of the elder. London is a name which has no meaning save in a tongue other than our own; it is the badge of our conquest over another race. Washington is a name in our own tongue, a badge, not of conquest but of fellowship. And the man whose birth one hundred and fifty-four years back is this day kept as a high day by no small part of the English folk, should be honoured, and is honoured, by every branch of the English folk alike. It is in no small measure his work and the work of them that wrought with him, that the speech and law which one age of English settlement bore from the European mainland to the European island, which another age of English settlement bore from the European island to the vaster mainland of America, are the speech and law of millions of men in either hemisphere, of more millions of men than are numbered by any other branch of the common European family.

There may be ears in which the title which I have chosen for my panegyric speech of this day66 may perchance sound strange. I speak of Washington as the Expander of England. The Expansion of England is a form of words which of late we have often heard, and to some of those on whose lips that form is most familiar it may indeed seem strange to hear the first President of the United States claimed as the foremost in the work of that expansion. Yet some, I trust, there may be who will at once see that among the worthies of our people there is none on whom that name can more truly be bestowed. The place of Washington in the history of mankind, more truly the place of a band of men of whom Washington was but the foremost, is one which is well-nigh without a fellow. It is not the place of the founders, real or mythical, of cities and realms in earlier or later days. It is not the place of the men who fenced in the hill by the Ilissos to become the home of the teachers of mankind or the hill by the Tiber to become the home of their rulers. A city bears the name of Washington, but Washington was not its founder; a67 mighty land calls him the Father of his Country, but, like him who first bore that name, he was not the creator of its freedom but the preserver. His place is not the place of the men who won new homes for their folk in other lands, the men who carried the life of Hellas to the Naxos of Sicily or the life of England to the Ebbsfleet of Kent. Men like them had gone before him; his work needed theirs as its forerunner; Virginia, Massachusetts, and their fellows, needed to be called into being before he should come whose calling was to weld them into one greater whole. Nor was his place wholly that of the men who have won the freedom of their own or of some other land from tyrants from within or from oppressors from without. Most like him among the men of old in pure and unselfish virtue is he, great alike in war and peace, who freed alike the mother and the daughter, the man who freed both his own land and her greatest colony. Yet the work of Washington is not the same as the work of Timoleôn either at Corinth or at68 Syracuse. One stage of the work of Washington was done in arms; yet he is not wholly like the men who in other days have won the freedom of nations on the battle-field. His work was not wholly like the work of the men who wrought the freedom of Jewry in defiance of the will and mandate of Asia, or of the men who wrought the freedom of Greece and Servia in defiance of the will and mandate of Europe. One stage of his work was done in peace, but it was not wholly like the work of the great reformers of other times, of Kleisthenês, of Licinius, or of Simon. More like was it to the work of a man most unlike himself, the man of wile and diplomacy who brought freedom like a thief in the night into Sikyôn and Corinth. More like was it to the work of the men of sturdy and enduring might who won victories for freedom on the field of Morgarten or among the dykes of Holland and Zealand. And yet the founder of the greatest of confederations holds a place not quite the same as that of the founders of the69 lesser confederations of other times. William of Orange called a free people into fuller being by breaking the yoke of a stranger far away who called himself their sovereign. So Washington called a free people into fuller being by breaking the yoke of a sovereign far away; but then that sovereign was not a stranger. Markos of Keryneia and Aratos of Sikyôn, and those whom the stern truth of history bids us call the nameless men who wrought the freedom of the Three Lands, had to deal with nearer enemies. They had to deal with enemies who were in some sort strangers, but who were still men of their own speech at their own doors. Washington and his fellows had in one sense to form a nation, in another sense to free a nation; they had to win the freedom of their own special land by breaking the yoke of the common chief of their whole people. They had to make the whole greater by rending away a part; they had to be the expanders of England, to enlarge the bounds of the folk of England; but they had to do it by breaking old ties asunder,70 by casting an old allegiance to the winds; they had, in short, to work the Expansion of England by working the dismemberment of the British Empire.

Herein comes the great truth, the seeming contradiction, which is embodied in the life and work of the worthy of this day and of the men who were his fellow-workers. There may, I trust, be still some left, who can take in the thought that there may be true brotherhood among men of the same race and speech, though their homes may be physically parted by the full breadth of Ocean, though they may be parted into distinct political communities, possibly rivals, possibly, by some unlucky chance, even enemies. Let us go back—there is no parallel so living—to those old Greek analogies of which I have often spoken, the analogies which some of us may still have in our memories. Let us place ourselves in the plain of Altis on one of those high festivals when the scattered folk of Hellas come together as speakers of the common tongue of71 Hellas, as worshippers of the common gods of Hellas. They come from every scattered settlement of Hellenic speech from the pillars of Hêraklês to the altar of the Tauric Artemis. The race is run; the victor is proclaimed, the victor whose success is to give fresh glory to his native city, the city which on his return he may not enter, like other men, through the opened gate, but through the breached wall, as it were the conqueror of his own birth-place. That city may be one of the renowned centres of the Greek motherland; it may be Athens or Sparta, Thebes or Argos; but it may also be the Iberian Zakynthos or the Campanian Kymê, Kyrênê on her terrace by the Libyan sea or far away Olbia by the banks of Dnieper. Every scattered member of the great brotherhood comes there of equal right; all are alike at home in the gathering of the united folk; all throng to the common hearth of the common gods of Hellas and her children. From east and west and north and south, all are alike Hellênes; none would refuse the name; none72 would endure to have the name refused to him. Wherever men of Hellas have planted themselves on barbarian soil, the soil has become Hellas through their presence. The man who goes forth from Athens to Milêtos still remains Greek and Ionian; the man who goes forth from Rhodes to Gela still remains Greek and Dorian. The tie of national brotherhood, the abiding feeling of the oneness of the folk, lives on through physical distance, through political separation, through political rivalry and wasting war. Here is indeed a gathering of scattered kinsfolk, but it is no gathering of dependencies round a common mistress or even round a common mother. It is the picture of something nobler; the picture of scattered communities, free and equal, gathered together in a common home and rejoicing in the tie of common brotherhood.

Let us try to call up the like picture of another scattered folk, a folk which has spread itself far and wide over the islands and continents of Ocean, as the folk of Hellas spread itself over73 the islands and continents of the inner sea. The settlements of the men of English blood and speech in our own day are in many things a lively image of the settlements of Hellenic blood and speech in the elder day. It is indeed hard to conceive a spot round which the whole English folk might gather as the whole Hellenic folk gathered around the altar of the Delphian Apollôn or the Olympian Zeus. But let us conceive such a gathering in some venerable spot of the mother-land, in its temporal capital or in its ecclesiastical metropolis. Let us conceive the scattered brethren meeting from their distant homes, from America, Australia, Africa, from every land where English enterprise has found a new dwelling-place for the speech and the law of England. But could the scattered men of England meet together on the same terms on which the scattered men of Hellas met together? Let us stop for a moment to think of the terms on which it seems to be commonly taken for granted that they must meet together if they meet at all. I have just been reading some brand-74new rimes, the literal translation of which might be toilsome, but the general drift of which it is not hard to see. We hear in the patriotic poet’s strain of

“The great England over seas,
Where, giant-like, our race renews
Its strength, and, stretched in strenuous ease,
Puts on once more its manhood’s thews.”

Yet more mysteriously is the fervent hope set forth

“That our dear land, in days to be,
May orb herself in fuller scope,
Knit, heart to heart, in bondage free;
Till all the peoples of our Queen
One undivided Empire know.”

In what the promised Elysium is to consist is a little dark, but it is plain that its blessings are to be confined to “the peoples of our Queen,” and that, whatever may be the exact political condition described as being “in bondage free,” it is reached only by those who are members of “one undivided Empire.” A question which I put on another occasion is now answered. Till this75 doctrine was thus clearly laid down, I was allowed to hope that “the great England over seas” at least took in that mighty company of free and independent commonwealths, speaking the English tongue, living under the English law, where, whether “in strenuous ease” or otherwise, our race has surely renewed its strength on the shores once planted by the Thirteen Colonies of England, and in the wider lands to the west of them. It is now at last plain that, in this new-fledged patriotism which can see national union only in “undivided Empire,” no place is found for the country of the man whose birth and deeds we this day remember. It is plain that “the great England beyond seas” is one in which Virginia and Massachusetts, Illinois and California, have no part or lot. Strange indeed to those earlier colonists, to the man of Hellas and to the man of Canaan, would the doctrine have sounded that there could be no national fellowship save among “peoples” of the same sovereign, that national brotherhood could take no shape but that76 of “undivided Empire.” “Empire” forsooth; there is something strange, nay something ominous, in the way in which that word and its even more threatening adjective seem ready to spring to every lip at every moment. The word sounds grand and vague; grand, it may be, because of its vagueness. To those who strive that every word they utter shall have a meaning, it calls up mighty and thrilling memories of a state of things which has passed away for ever. Its associations are far from being wholly evil. It calls up indeed pictures of the whole civilized world bowing down to one master at one centre. But it calls up thoughts of princes who bound the nations together by the tie of a just and equal law; it calls up thoughts of princes who gathered the nations round them to do the work of their day in that Eternal Question which needs no reopening because no diplomacy has ever closed it, the question between light and darkness, between West and East. But the thought of Empire is in all shapes the thought, not of brotherhood but of subjection; the word implies a master who commands77 and subjects who obey; “Imperium et Libertas” are names either of which forbids the presence of the other. The thought of “Empire,” alike in its noblest and its basest forms, may call up thoughts of nations severed in blood and speech, brought together, for good or evil, at the bidding of a common master; it cannot call up the higher thought of men of the same nation, scattered over distant lands, brought together, not at the bidding of a master, but at the call of brotherhood, as members of a household still one however scattered. In the gatherings of the Hellenic folk around the altars of the gods of Hellas the thought of Empire was unknown. Still less could the thought of Empire cross the mind when Carthage, in the pride of her wide dominion, still sent the offerings of a child to her mother Tyre in her Persian bondage. If Empire there was, if we must so cruelly thrust the special Roman name either backwards or forwards, if Athens had her tributaries, if Carthage had her subject lands, the thought of Empire was cast78 aside when the higher thought of brotherhood was called to life. When the just judge from Aitôlia, representative of the mother-land in its Eleian settlement, bestowed the Olympic wreath on the Olympic victor, he asked not whether the city from which that victor came did or did not follow the lead of any mightier city in war and peace. Athens, keeper of the hoard of Dêlos, had there no precedence over the smallest town whose tribute helped to fill her coffers. When the scattered brethren came together on their day of union, the only master whom they knew was one who sat on a higher throne than the thrones of Babylon and Susa; the one Imperial lord whom united Hellas knew was he whose graven form sat in his majesty in the temple round which they gathered; their only king was the deathless king of Olympos, the common Father of gods and men.

That this now familiar name of “Empire” expresses a fact, and a mighty fact, none can doubt. The only doubt that can be raised is whether79 the fact of Empire is a wholesome one, whether it is exactly the side of the position of our island in the world which we should specially pick out as the thing whereof to boast ourselves. Empire is dominion; it implies subjects; the name may even suggest unwilling subjects. From one point of view the analogy which the word first suggests, the analogy with the first state that bore the name, with the ruling commonwealth of Rome, is perfect. The People of Rome were, in constitutional theory, lords and masters of their subject lands, those provinces which they held as folkland on a mighty scale, the estates to which the ruling people was not only a corporate sovereign but a corporate landlord. And so the People of Great Britain, if not in constitutional theory, yet in forms of daily speech which express the facts more truly than any constitutional theory, proclaims itself as the corporate ruler, perhaps the corporate landlord, of no small portion of the world. If I may quote a phrase which I have myself used in another80 place, the “corporate Emperor We,” that manifold Imperial being of which you and I and all of us rejoice to be members, ranks high indeed among the potentates of the earth. No phrase comes more readily to the lips of the patriotic Briton than that of “our Indian Empire;” and he speaks truly. For “ours” it is; we instinctively call it so; for “we,” through the Parliaments and Ministries which exist only by “our” choice, can legislate and administer for millions on millions of human beings, our subjects, our provincials, who have no voice in determining their own destiny, but who must humbly accept their doom from us. “We” hold India, “we” govern India; “we” sometimes, in our Imperial clemency, stoop to say that we govern it, not in our own interests but in the interest of those over whom we rule. We are minded, in short, in dealing with our provinces and with their subject inhabitants, to be an Emperor after the pattern of Hadrian, not an Emperor after the pattern of Constantius. But this is not our only Empire. We have too—81the most familiar phrases daily repeat the form—a Colonial Empire. The instinctive phrase is true, true to the very letter. We—the same We that have an Indian Empire, have also a Colonial Empire. For an Empire it is. With reference to them also, I must again insist on the fact sometimes forgotten, that the freest of British colonies, those who can act with most unshackled freedom in their internal dealings, are not like the colonies of old Hellas or of older Canaan; they are still dependencies, provinces, subject lands, which have not escaped the absolute dominion of the corporate Emperor. That they can do ought for themselves is wholly of our grace and favour; they hold their practical independence as our gift, the gift of their corporate master. But, more than this, fact will sometimes over-ride theory even still nearer home. In theory every part of this United Kingdom has equal rights; there are no provinces, no subject lands; there is no favoured city or district whose inhabitants have any claim to bear themselves as the masters of any other. Yet truth82 will out; the corporate Emperor will assert himself in defiance of such pleasing theories. No man says, “We” must govern England, or Scotland, or Wales, or any part of England, Scotland, or Wales; but we every day hear the phrases, “We must govern Ireland,” “we” must do this and that for Ireland, while we should be amazed indeed if the people of Ireland, any more than the people of India, should take upon themselves to say back again, “We must govern England.” Nay, I have seen the full doctrine of Empire, the doctrine which makes the corporate Emperor, not only ruler but landlord in his provinces, set forth in the clearest words with regard to one part of what we still formally hold to be an United Kingdom with equal rights in every part of it. Not long ago I read something very instructive on this head in that one among English newspapers which we may be always sure says what its conductors really think, and not what it is for the moment convenient for party purposes to say. I there read of Ireland as an island which, if “we” had not83 governed, “we” had at least owned, for six hundred years. There are points in this saying on which it might be well to consult both a lawyer and a chronologer; but the doctrine of “Empire,” the doctrine that the people of one part of the United Kingdom are master and landlord over another part of the United Kingdom, could hardly be set forth more clearly.

The fact of Empire then cannot be denied. The burthens of Empire, the responsibilities of Empire, cannot be denied. They are burthens and responsibilities which we have taken on ourselves, and which it is far easier to take on ourselves than to get rid of. The only question is whether this our Imperial position is one on which we need at all pride ourselves, one about which it is wise to be ever blowing our trumpet and calling on all the nations of the world to come and admire us. Is there not a more excellent way, a way which, even if it is too late to follow it, we may at least mourn that we have not followed? Is it wholly hopeless, with this strange, yet true,84 cry of “Empire” daily dinned into our ears, to rise to the thoughts of the old Greek and the old Phœnician, the thought of an union of scattered kinsfolk bound together by a nobler tie than that of being subjects of one Empire or “peoples” of one sovereign? Will not the memories of this day lift us above this confused babble about a British Empire patched up out of men of every race and speech under the sun, to the higher thought of the brotherhood of the English folk, the one English folk in all its homes? Surely the burthen of barbaric Empire is at most something that we may school ourselves to endure; the tie of English brotherhood is something that we may rejoice to strive after. Cannot our old Hellenic memories teach us that that brotherhood need be none the less near, none the less endearing, between communities whose political connexion has been severed—alas, we may cry, that ever needed severing? The land in which Washington was born has not yet wholly forgotten the name of the “old dominion.” Might85 it not have been better if the word “dominion,” dominion on the part of the mother-land, had remained as unheard on the shores of English Virginia as it was on the shores of Hellenic Sicily? I have elsewhere traced in full the historic causes which led the colonists of modern Europe to plant only dependencies, provinces, of the lands from which they severally set forth, while the colonists of Phœnicia and Hellas planted free and independent cities. It is easy to trace the causes; it is yet easier to trace the results. Those results are written in the whole history of the Western hemisphere from the river of Saint Lawrence to the river of La Plata. It is written in the fact that, while in the colonies of the elder world the men who were most honoured were their founders, in the colonies of the younger world the men who are most honoured are their deliverers. Whom do we honour this day? Not a man who went forth from the mother-land to plant a settlement, but a man who helped to86 tear away the long planted settlement from the dominion of the mother-land. For the career of Washington, for the career of Bolivar, there was no room among the colonies of Ionia or the colonies of Sicily. Between them and their parents in the elder Hellas, there was no bitter remembrance of a time of parting, a time of parting in anger and in bloodshed. It would seem as if the colonial history of later times had picked out Korkyra and Kamarina as the model colonies of the elder time. I have said that among the worthies of old time the one whose fame is most akin to the worthy of our day is the deliverer of Syracuse, Timoleôn of Corinth. But that we describe him as Timoleôn of Corinth at once goes to the root of the matter. That we have to speak of Timoleôn of Corinth, while we can hardly speak of Washington of England or of Bolivar of Spain, brings out in its fullest life the difference between the colonial systems of the elder and the younger Europe. The deliverer of Syracuse was a man of Corinth, a man87 whom the mother-land sent forth to free her daughter alike from domestic tyrants and from foreign enemies. The deliverer of Virginia and her sisters was a man of Virginia, a man who had once played his part against the foreign enemies of the English name, but whose abiding glory was won by parting asunder the newer lands of England from the elder. I shrink from saying that he had to fight against tyrants or enemies—let us strive to veil the grievous fact under some gentler words—but so far as he had to deal with tyrants or with enemies, they were tyrants and enemies to be looked for in the mother-land. Timoleôn had to strive against strangers and hirelings, against Carthage and the motley hosts which she sent against Hellenic Sicily. Washington had to strive against strangers and hirelings, but they were strangers and hirelings whom the elder England sent to work the subjection of the younger. Timoleôn had to break no tie of allegiance; in freeing the daughter city he was carrying out the bidding of the88 mother. Washington had to trample allegiance under foot; he had to become, in legal form, a rebel and a traitor; he had to free the daughter-land in defiance of the bidding of the mother-land and their common sovereign. In short, his work, the work of his fellows, was to work the dismemberment of the British Empire. But in working the dismemberment of the British Empire, they wrought, I say once more, the true Expansion of England, the enlargement of the bounds of the English folk, and of all that the English bears with it to all its newly settled homes.

We have come back again to our paradox. What is the “Expansion of England?” Do the words mean simply the expansion of the dominion of England, or do they mean the expansion of England itself? Is it the expansion of England when Englishmen go forth to other lands, among men of other tongues, to toil, to strive, to rule, but not to dwell? The dominion of England may be expanded when men found a counting-89house, a barrack, an office of government, a court of judgement, and when they have done their work in one of these, come back to enjoy their wealth or their honours in the land of their birth, the land which they mean to be the resting-place of their bones, the dwelling-place of their children. It is surely the expansion of England only when a new land is won for the English folk as an abiding-place for ever. When men go forth to found, not merely a seat of wealth or a seat of power, but a home where they may live and die, where they may leave their graves and leave their children to guard them, then is England itself expanded. So it was in Kent; so it was in Virginia; so it is at this day on countless shores and islands beyond the Ocean. There is no expansion of a land and its folk in the mere winning of barbaric dominion, or even in holding kindred or neighbouring nations under a rule which they love not. England is not expanded either by keeping “our” dominion over the Green Island that lies beside us to the West or by extending90 “our” dominion over the Golden Chersonêsos far to the East. Do not mistake me; to annex, to coerce, to hold in bondage, may, in some unhappy state of things, be a solemn and fearful duty; it can never be matter for rejoicing or for boasting. But there is matter of rejoicing, so far as boasting is lawful, there is matter for boasting, whenever the English folk wins a new land, not merely to rule over but to dwell in, a new land in which the speech, the laws, the traditions of England may be as much at home as they are here in this our England in Britain. What is England? The old Teutonic name speaks for itself; it is the land of the English, the land of the English wherever they may dwell. Wherever the men of England settle, there springs to life a new England. There was a day when Massachusetts was not England; there was an earlier day when Kent itself was not England. The elder and the younger land, the land beyond the sea and the land beyond the Ocean, have been made England by the same process. Men went forth from the91 first England to found a second, and from the second England to found a third. In our onward march we passed from the European mainland to the European island and from the European island to the American mainland. In each case there was a making of England, an expansion of England; John Smith on the shore of Virginia did but go on with the work which Hengest had begun on the shore of Kent. In each case the newer England became the greater; men crossed the sea to found a greater England than the first, and they crossed the Ocean to found a greater England than the second. In each case they expanded England; but they did not in both cases expand the dominion of England. At Ebbsfleet, the Naxos of Britain, men founded a new England in Britain as independent of the older England on the mainland as the new Hellas in Sicily was independent of the older Hellas by the Ægæan. With the second voyage it was not so; the third England beyond the Ocean did not arise free and independent; it92 needed an after-work, an after-work never needed in the second, to make it so. And that work was surely an expansion, an expansion of England. We come once more to our paradox; may it not be that England herself may be expanded by the very cutting short of her dominion? Again, what is England? Do we mean by it simply the dominions of the Crown of England—or rather the dominion of a Crown of whose kingdom the British England is but a part? Or do we mean by it the land of the English folk, wherever they may dwell? Is there any contradiction in holding that the land of the English folk may be made greater, greater in mere physical extension, greater too in all that makes a folk and an English folk, by changes which cut short the mere dominion of the English Crown, which, in other words, work the dismemberment of the British Empire? May not the œcumenical England, the whole congregation of English people dispersed throughout the world, become greater, as the mere dominion of part of England,93 the dominion of this second England, this insular England, this British England, becomes narrower? Are we to be told that men of English blood, of English speech, of English law, ceased to be English, because they ceased to be under the rule of the sovereign of the British England? Once more back again to our ancient memories. Call up once more a man of Carthage; ask him if he ceased to be Phœnician, if he threw away the memory and the fellowship of the Phœnician name, because, in his new home on the shore of Africa, he owed reverence only and not allegiance to the mother-city on the shore of Syria? Call up once more a man of Syracuse—I will not say one who helped on one moonlight night to thrust down the Ionian invader from the steeps of Epipolai or who plied his oar for the Dorian city in the last fight in the Great Harbour—throw a veil over the strife of Greek with Greek, as we will throw a veil over the day of shame when men from the second England wrought a barbarian’s havoc on the rising council-house of the third,—let us94 rather say, call up one who, on the day of Salamis, helped in a work no less than that of Salamis by the side of Gelôn at Himera, call up one who struck the last blow for freedom and Hellenic life amid the breached walls and burning houses of Selinous, one who marched forth with the deliverer from the mother-land to win the wreath of Hellenic victory by the banks of Krimisos—ask such an one if he was less a Greek, if he had less share in the name and brotherhood of Greece, because his city between the two Sicilian havens was a commonwealth as free and independent as the elder city between the two Peloponnesian gulfs? True, the man of Carthage, the man of Syracuse, had, unlike the man of Virginia or Massachusetts, no yoke of the motherland to cast aside; but surely the man of Virginia or Massachusetts was, if anything, less English when he knew dependence, when he had to obey the decrees of an assembly in whose choice he had no part, than he became when he rose to the full age and stature of an Englishman by winning95 those full rights of freedom which Carthage and Syracuse had from the beginning. We have so strangely passed away from the political conceptions of earlier ages, that the word colony is held to imply dependence. In the old Thirteen lands of America we hear of the colonial period as meaning the time of imperfect freedom; when full freedom is won, the name of colony is cast away. And yet surely a colony of England was not meant to be a mere Roman colonia, a mere Athenian κληρουχία, a garrison to hold down a subject province; it was surely meant to be, like a Greek ἀποικία, a new home of English life and English speech. In that nobler sense of the word, a colony which is not independent has not risen to the full rank of a colony; it is hardly a home for the new folk of the mother-land; it is little more than an outpost of its dominion. Surely the Englishmen of those Thirteen lands, who had unhappily to fight their way to the full rights of Englishmen, did not cease to be Englishmen, to be colonists of England, because they won them.96 Surely—I have said it already and I may have to say it again—they became in a higher and truer sense colonies of the English folk because they had ceased to be dependencies of the British Crown.

I speak of Thirteen lands; and thirteen is as it were a magic number in the history of federations. It is a memorable number alike in the League of Achaia and in the Old League of High Germany. But in none of the three was Thirteen to be the fated stint and bound among the sharers in the common freedom. Thirteen stars, thirteen stripes, were wrought on the banner of the United States of America in their first day of independence, the day of their second birth as truly and fully a second English nation. Look at that banner now; tell the number of those stars and call them by their names, each of them the name of a free commonwealth of the English folk. See we not there the expansion of England in its greatest form? See we not there the work of Hengest and Cerdic carried out on a scale on97 which it could never have been carried out in the island which they won for us? The dependent provinces of England stretched but in name to the banks of the Father of Waters; from the border ridge of Alleghany, as from the height of Pisgah, they did but take a glance at the wider land beyond. The independent colonies of England have found those bounds too strait for them. They have gone on and taken possession; they have carried the common speech and the common law, beyond the mountains, beyond the rivers, beyond the vaster mountains, beyond the Eastern Ocean itself, till America marches upon Asia. Such has been the might of independence; such has been the strength of a folk which drew a new life from the axe which did not hew it down, but by a health-giving stroke parted it asunder. It may be, it is only in human nature that so it should be, that the fact that independence was won by the sword drew forth a keener life, a more conscious energy, a firmer and fiercer purpose to grow and to march on. The growth of a land98 free from the beginning might perchance have been slower; let it be so; a slight check on the forward march would not have been dearly purchased by unbroken friendship between parent and child from the beginning.

It is a strange feeling which comes over us as we stand by the southern bank of the Ohio, as we look over the wide stream which once parted French and English lands, as we look from what once was dependent England into what once was dependent France. And as there we muse, we think of the earlier work of the worthy of to-day. We think of the share that he had in changing so large a part of dependent France into what was still for a while to be dependent England. Other names from either side of Ocean press on us as we trace out that old border-land and think upon its history. I found something to muse upon where amid the smoke of Pittsburg the name still dwells of a chief worthy of my own land and of my own college. But his name comes first who was to play his part in a twofold expansion of England,99 who was first to help in the mere enlargement of her dominion, and then to be foremost in the mightier work of enlarging her very self by snapping the dominion of one part of the English folk over another. Washington, fighting for one King George, did well; Washington, fighting against another King George, did better. Look again at Washington’s own land, and see how healthy is the process of dismemberment to a free commonwealth. Look at Virginia, mother of Presidents, mother of States, the Megalopolis of a new Achaia, worthy of a place even beside the city of Philopoimên and Polybios. If we hold that England is expanded by the dismemberment of her dominion, the old dominion of England was expanded by the dismemberment of herself. The land of the English folk is enlarged as free Virginia throws off free Kentucky, as the Thirteen stars admit a fourteenth member of the constellation. In that starry firmament there is no lost Pleiad; even the Lone Star needed not long to shine in loneliness. The man of this day and his fellows100 lighted a candle which cannot be put out, a candle which is ever handing on its flame to lesser lights which may one day be the greater. And in the wider view of the English folk, in the wider view of England, it was in truth in and for England that they lighted it.

* * * * *

On this twenty-second day of February I have said but little, I have time left to say but little, of the man by whose birth that day was made memorable. I cannot speak now of the modest virtues of one on whom greatness was indeed thrust, a greatness which consisted, not in the brilliancy of fitful genius, not in the growth of any one gift so as to overshadow and overwhelm others not less needful; but in the equal balance of all, the unswerving honesty, the native dignity, which enabled him to play a worthy part on so many stages, to act wisely and righteously in any post to which the chances of a chequered life might call him. Still less have I time this day to speak of his fellows, of the memorable101 band of which he was but the foremost, on one of the many sides of his life perhaps hardly the foremost. When we speak of George Washington and his work, the kindred work of Alexander Hamilton must never be forgotten. Shall I, in the course of my office here, ever reach those times? Or shall I keep to my old familiar ground of Sikyôn and Megalopolis, knowing well that there is one among us who can deal better than I can with the federal history of Schwyz and Zürich, that there is another among us who can deal better than I can with the federal history of Pennsylvania and Rhode Island? Be this as it may, we deal this time, this twenty-second of February, with an idea rather than with a man. We look at the man in his work. And we would hold up his work as a model. There are other lands in which his work may again be done, and done more peacefully. No new Bunker Hill, no Saratoga, no Yorktown, would be needed to call into being other independent Englands as free and mighty as either the elder or the younger. Other102 continents beside Europe and America have become homes of the English folk, and the homes of the English folk in those other lands may not always lag behind the great home of the English folk between the Oceans. The tale of “the English in America” is now in telling, in most worthy telling, here among us. Some other pens in times to come may write the tale of “the English in Australia,” of “the English in Africa,” and they may have to trace the story after the same pattern. Let Federation grow and prosper, so long as no contradictory adjective is tacked on to a substantive so worthy of all honour. Where there is Empire, there is no brotherhood; where there is brotherhood, there is no Empire. I shall hardly see the day; but some of you may see it, when the work of Washington and Hamilton may be wrought again without slash or blow, when, alongside of the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United States of America, the United States of Australia, the United States of South Africa, the United States of New Zealand,103 may stand forth as independent homes of Englishmen, bound to one another by the common tie of brotherhood, and bound by loyal reverence, and by no meaner bond, to the common parent of all.



We have heard a great deal of late about “Imperial Federation.” And the votaries of “Imperial Federation” promise us very wonderful things if the scheme for which they are striving should ever become more than a scheme. Some of the more enthusiastic talkers have told us of the coming union on equal terms of all the English people—it has sometimes even been put, of all the English-speaking people—all over the world. We are not distinctly told whether those who are not English-speaking people are to be shut out from the benefits of the scheme. But the scheme is spoken of as being something specially and intensely English, unless indeed the word “British” is liked better. It is not wonderful that such promises have won over many minds. “Imperial Federation” has a grand sound; it has an air as if it meant something. And if it did mean what it is said to mean, the union, on closer and more brotherly terms, of all men of English105 descent or of all speakers of the English tongue, it would mean something to the carrying out of which all of us would surely be ready to lend a helping hand. There are however some little points to be thought of on the other side. First, there is the name; then there is the thing. It may be some objection to the name that it is altogether meaningless, or rather that it is a contradiction in terms. It may be some objection to the thing that, whether the results of the scheme should turn out to be good or bad, they could never be the particular results which its votaries, at least its more enthusiastic votaries, tell us that they are aiming at. What is meant might seem to be the closer and more equal political union of all, or a part, of the dominions of the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Now that, whether good or bad, possible or impossible, in itself, would be a very different thing from an union of all English-speaking people—and, we must suppose, of none other. It tells a little against the name of the scheme that what is “Imperial” cannot be “Federal,” and that what is “Federal” cannot be “Imperial.” It tells a little against its substance that none can expect the scheme to carry out its professed purpose except those who have forgotten the existence of India and the existence of the United States.

106 The simple truth is that the phrase “Imperial Federation” is a contradiction in terms, that what is imperial cannot be federal, and that what is federal cannot be imperial. To make out this proposition we must look a little more closely into the history of the words concerned. One of them at least seems to have greatly changed its meaning of late years, and it would be well to know the exact sense in which it is used.

The word “imperial” is the adjective of the substantive “empire.” Now what is meant by “empire”? Speaking as a “pedant,” I cannot help saying that clearness of thought would have greatly gained if the word Empire had always been sternly confined to what was its strict meaning for ages. It would have been well if the name had never been applied to anything but the Roman Empire and those powers which professed to continue the Roman Empire. Or, if it ever went beyond that limit, it would have been well if it had been used only when it was wished to assert an analogy between one of those powers and some other. In this last way it is true and instructive to speak of the Mogul Empire in India, which supplies so many points of analogy with the Empire of Rome; but, after the vague way in which the word is used now, such an application of it would fail to strike many minds as having107 any special meaning. The word “empire” in truth has taken to itself a quite new use within a very few years past. At no time that I know of would any one have scrupled to speak, in poetical or rhetorical language, of “the British empire,” “this great empire,” and the like. But I can remember the time when no one would have used those phrases, except in language more or less poetical or rhetorical. That is to say, though the speaker may not have consciously thought of suggesting any analogy with the Roman Empire, yet the traditions of the time when those words could not have been used without implying such an analogy had still left their stamp on language. “Empire” was a word somewhat out of the common; it would not have been found in the dry language of an advertisement or in such notices as in those days answered to a telegram. Now the word is used without any special feeling. It seems to have taken its place quite naturally as the highest term in an ascending scale. As the county is greater than the parish, and the kingdom greater than the county, so the empire is greater than the kingdom. The word “empire” is used as one that comes as naturally to the lips as “parish,” “county,” or “kingdom.” This change of language doubtless comes of a change of facts, or at any rate of a108 change in the way of looking at facts. But it is none the less an abuse of language, and one that has led to not a few confusions.

When Sir James Mackintosh, in his speech on behalf of Peltier, spoke of Napoleon Buonaparte, First Consul of the French Republic, as “master of the mightiest empire that the civilized world ever saw,” it was a rhetorical flourish, and it may be that the thought of Rome was not wholly absent from the speaker’s mind. When, a little later, Napoleon Buonaparte himself bestowed the title of “empire” on his dominions, by no means as a flourish, but as a formal title and a title full of meaning, the thought of Rome was assuredly fully present to his mind. The use of the phrase “British Empire,” as a technical phrase from which all memory of Rome has passed away, is a good deal later than the use of the phrase “French Empire” as a technical phrase from which all memory of Rome had certainly not passed away. In one use indeed the “Empire of Britain” and other phrases of the like kind are very old indeed. They are common in the tenth and eleventh centuries, and they come in again in the sixteenth. They are rare between the eleventh century and the sixteenth, and they go out of use after the sixteenth. That is to say, they were used when109 there was a reason for using them, and they went out of use when there was no longer a reason. In the earlier period they were meant to assert two things; that the English King was superior lord over all the other princes of Britain, and that the continental Emperor was not superior lord over him. In the sixteenth century, when, under Charles the Fifth, the continental Empire was again threatening, Henry the Eighth found it needful again to assert with no small emphasis that “the Kingdom of England is an Empire.” I made this remark long ago; it has been set forth with increased force and with fresh proofs in the recent work of Mr. Friedmann. In the seventeenth century, when the continental Emperors were no longer threatening, and when the common King of England and Scotland had no need to assert any lordship over himself, such language naturally went out of use, or sank to the level of an occasional survival or an occasional flourish.

From the newest use of the word “empire” and the still newer use of the adjective “imperial,” all memories of this kind have passed away. It is hard to say whether the phrase “Imperial Parliament” was the last use in the old sense or the first use in the new. I suspect that it is not in strictness either the one or the other. It110 was meant to express the union of three kingdoms into a greater whole; but it was certainly not a protest against any continental empire; nor did it carry with it all the meaning which the word “imperial” has lately taken to itself. And this use of the word is singularly isolated. It is not applied to anything else in the same formal way2; nor is it our custom to apply any adjective in the same way. On the continent adjectives like “Imperial,” “Royal,” “Grand-ducal,” are employed at every moment. The post-office, the police-office, anything else that has to do with any branch of public administration, has the K., the K. K., the R., the I. R. or anything else of the kind, prominently put forward. We do not write up “Royal Post-office,” though we may mark it with the more personal badge of V. R. The reason may be that on the continent we have sometimes to ask whether it is empire, kingdom, or grand-duchy that we are in. Here no man ever doubted about being in the Kingdom of England, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. But there is no reason to think that the phrase111 “Imperial Parliament,” when it was first used, meant anything more than “Parliament of England, Scotland, and Ireland.” That that Parliament could legislate for any part of the dominions of the King of Great Britain and Ireland no man doubted; but it is not likely that anything beyond Great Britain and Ireland was consciously in the minds of those who devised the title. It is only in quite late times, in times within my own memory, that the word “empire” has come into common use as a set term for something beyond the kingdom. It is only in times later still that the adjective “imperial” has come into common use, in such phrases as “imperial interests,” “imperial purposes.” At the beginning of the present century those phrases would certainly not have been used as quasi-technical terms, though something like them might at any time have been used as a rhetorical figure.

In the present use of the words there is always a latent ambiguity. What is the Empire? The whole of the Queen’s dominions, some one will answer, as distinguished from the mere Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. But in what sense is this an Empire? The word is clearly not used in the old sense anywhere but in India. To the title of “Empress of India” there were good objections on other grounds; but it cannot be denied112 that it accurately expresses the nature of the Queen’s power in India. The Empress of India is Lady over dependent princes and nations in India, just as the “totius Britanniæ Basileus” once was lord over dependent princes and nations in Britain. But this sense does not in the same way apply to the Queen’s dominions in America and Australia; it hardly applies to her dominions in Africa. In what sense do these last form parts of an empire? Is the word meant to imply or to deny any superiority on the part of the seat of empire, that is, on the part of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland? Or is it, by that odd confusion of thought and language which is by no means uncommon, meant somehow to imply that there is such a superiority, but that such superiority ought to exist no longer? As long as the word was a mere figure or flourish, designed simply as a vague name for a great extent of territory, it was needless to ask its strict meaning; it had no strict meaning, and could not mislead anybody. But now that it has become a technical term, we have a right to ask its strict meaning. It adds to the difficulty that we are dealing with an Empire without an Emperor. The Queen is not Empress anywhere but in India; the title may not even be used in the United Kingdom. Otherwise the natural meaning of the phrase “imperial interests”113 would seem to be the interests of the Emperor, as opposed to any other. It would mean the interests of the imperial power, as opposed to the interests of the states which are dependent on the imperial power. The word as now used seems intended to mean the interests of the whole of the Queen’s dominions, as opposed to the interests of any particular part of them. But this is an odd use of the word “imperial.” We should never speak of “royal interests,” to mean the interests of the whole kingdom, as distinguished from the interests of any particular part of it. “Royal interests,” if the words had any meaning, would mean the special interests of the King. “Imperial interests” would as naturally mean the special interests of the Emperor. Only, as there is no Emperor, it is possible for the word to go about and pick up for itself less obvious meanings.

When then we hear of “Imperial Federation,” we first wish to know the meaning of the word “imperial;” next we wish to know the meaning of the word “federation.” I once defined “a federal government in its perfect form” as “one which forms a single state with regard to other nations, but which consists of many states with regard to its internal government.” And I have seen that definition quoted with approval by114 advocates of Imperial Federation3. It has been argued that a federation that answers my definition is already formed—perhaps not by the whole of the Queen’s dominions, but by “the United Kingdom, the Dominion of Canada, the different Australian colonies, New Zealand, and the Cape.” From such a list I could not have left out the Kingdom of Man and the Duchy of Normandy—that part of it I mean which clave to its own dukes and remained Norman, when the rest submitted to a foreign king and became French. Nor are we told whether India, Heligoland, Gibraltar, and a few other places, are parts of the federation or not.

Now the singular thing is that some of those who look upon the connexion of the United Kingdom with the other parts of the Queen’s dominions as being already a federal union are fully sensible of the fact which at once shuts out the federal relation. “The United Kingdom,” it has been well put, “keeps to itself, and absorbs within itself, the foreign policy of the whole realm.” The word “realm,” commonly used as equivalent to “kingdom,” seems here to be used as equivalent to “empire,” and the relation here described may be fairly called Imperial. The same fact has been put yet more strongly;


“As regards internal affairs the colonies have self-government. As regards foreign affairs, they are subjects, not merely of the Queen, but of our Parliament—that is of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, or rather of such of those inhabitants as are voters.”

In a rough practical sense this is true; but that it should be true, even in a rough practical sense, curiously illustrates the conventional nature of our whole system. In theory the whole foreign policy rests in the hands of the Crown. The Queen cannot pass a law or impose a tax without the consent of Parliament; she can declare war or conclude a treaty without asking Parliament about it. But, in a rough practical way, Parliament, and through Parliament the constituencies, can exercise a good deal of influence on foreign policy, though an influence much slighter and much less direct than that which they exercise on domestic policy. But the colonies can exercise no influence at all on foreign affairs; therefore they are not only subjects in the sense in which any man in a monarchy is a “subject” of the Emperor, King, or Grand-duke; they are subjects in the sense of being a society of men which is subject to another society. They are, in short, what a Greek would have called ὑπήκοοι and a Swiss Unterthanen. And, large as their actual powers of self-government are, they116 are all—unlike the immemorial rights of Man and Jersey—mere grants from the Crown or from the Parliament of the United Kingdom itself. And, though the exercise of the power is in some cases just as unlikely as the exercise of the power of the Crown to refuse assent to a bill that has passed both Houses, still the Parliament of the United Kingdom has never formally given up its right to legislate for any part of the dominions of the sovereign of the United Kingdom.

Practically however the chief British colonies are independent as concerns the internal affairs of each; they are practically dependent or subject only as regards the common policy of the “realm” or “empire.” And it has been said, and that not by an opponent of “Imperial Federation,” that

“These two opposing principles, subordination on the one hand, and self-government on the other—we might almost say subjection and freedom—cannot long co-exist. This imperfect, incomplete, one-sided federation must end either in disintegration or incomplete and equal and perfect federation.”

The only question is whether a federation thus limited is federation at all, and not really subjection. When we speak of “imperfect, incomplete, one-sided federation,” the adjectives destroy the substantive; they show that the relation spoken117 of is not a federal relation at all. All the elements of a federation are wanting. There is no voluntary union of independent states, keeping some powers to themselves and granting other powers to a central authority of their own creation. There is instead a number of dependent bodies, to which a central authority older than themselves has been graciously pleased to grant certain powers. This state of things is not federation, but subjection. It is perfectly true that an American State, as such, has no more direct voice in the foreign affairs of the American Union than a British colony has in the foreign affairs of the British “empire.” But why? The colony has no such voice, because it is a subject community and never had a voice in such matters. The American State has no such voice, because the direction of foreign affairs is one of the powers which the States have ceded to the Federal authority. But, more than this, not only has the colony no direct voice in ordering foreign affairs, itself and its citizens have no voice, direct or indirect, in choosing those who have the ordering of them. But the American State and its citizens have a direct voice in choosing those who have the ordering of the foreign affairs of the Union. The citizens of the several States, as citizens of the United118 States, choose the [electors of the] President, by whom foreign affairs are actually ordered. The States themselves in their Legislatures choose the Senators, by whom the acts of the President are approved or annulled. Here are two very different stories; the difference between the position of the American State and the position of the British colony is nothing short of the difference between federation and subjection.

In truth the relation between the United Kingdom and the colonies does not answer my old definition of federation which it has been said to answer. The colonies are not “states” in the sense of that definition. The “states” there spoken of are communities like the cities of Achaia, the cantons of Switzerland, the states of America, sovereign and independent communities, which, while keeping to themselves certain of the attributes of sovereignty, have by their own act ceded certain other of its attributes to a central authority4. The colonies are119 not states in this sense; instead of having granted any powers to a central authority, they have only such powers as the central authority chose to grant to them. They are not states; they are only municipalities on a great scale. I shall doubtless be told that the colonies can alter their criminal law, their marriage law, and a crowd of other laws, which a municipality at home cannot alter. But why? The colonies can do all these things, simply because Parliament has given them the power to do them; and Parliament can, if it chooses, give the same power to the Common Council of London or to the parish vestry of Little Peddlington.

* * * * *

Thus far we have been dealing with a state of things which may very likely be “imperial,” but which is assuredly very far from “federal.” It is a state which—we have good authority for so saying—cannot last very long, but which must soon be exchanged either for disintegration or for federation. The question in truth comes to this; Shall an “empire” break up or shall it120 be changed into a federation? To speak of changing an imperfect federation into a perfect one gives a false idea of the case. What is really proposed to be done is not to change a lax confederation into a closer one or an imperfect confederation into a perfect one. It is to bring in federation, as a perfectly new thing, where at present there is no federation, but its opposite, subjection. And it is proposed to bring in federation, not only as a perfectly new thing, but under circumstances utterly unlike those under which any of the present or past confederations of the world ever came into being. The proposal that a ruling state—if any one chooses to call it so, an “imperial” state—should come down from its position of empire, and enter into terms of equal confederation with its subject communities, is a very remarkable proposal, and one which has perhaps never before been made in the history of the world. It may therefore be well to take a glimpse at the causes which have led to so unprecedented a proposal and to the unprecedented dilemma of which it forms one horn.

It is this subjection of the colonies to the mother-country which is, as I have fully argued elsewhere, the great point of difference between modern European colonies and those colonies of121 the elder world which have in other respects so much in common with them. While the relations between metropolis and colony are the brightest facts of Greek or Phœnician political life, in modern times the relations between mother-country and colony have often been among the darkest. The subjection of the colony is, as none see more clearly than some advocates of Imperial Federation, an unnatural thing, at the very least a thing which becomes unnatural as soon as the colony has outgrown its childhood. Then comes the alternative, “disintegration” or federation. That is, Shall the colonies part from the mother-country and become independent, or shall they remain united to the mother-country on some terms other than those of subjection? In the Greek system the alternative could not occur; where the colony was independent from the beginning, there was no room for “disintegration.” And though we are sure that the mother-country, taught by experience, would not now think of trying to keep by force any colony that wished to separate, yet “disintegration” is a process which is perhaps not to be desired in itself. It must be better either never to have been united or never to separate. The separation may be needful, but it must be something of an unpleasant wrench. The122 Greek system made it needless. Metropolis and colony were all the better friends because the relation of subjection had never existed between them.

But it is the other alternative of federation which we have now to discuss. Is that alternative, the substitution of federation for empire, possible? Let us at least remember that what is proposed is unlike anything that ever happened in the world before. That certainly does not of itself prove that the proposed scheme is either impossible or undesirable; still it is a fact worth bearing in mind. It is always dangerous to imagine a precedent where there is none. A perfectly new scheme should stand forth as a perfectly new scheme, as something which may commend itself by its abstract merits, but which has nothing in the way of experience to recommend it. And such is the scheme of federation between the mother-country and the colonies. No ruling state has ever admitted its subject states into a federal relation5. Ruling states123 have often admitted subject states to equal privileges with themselves; but the promotion has taken the shape, not of federation but of absorption; that is, subjects were raised to the rank of citizens. Of this Rome is the great example; her citizenship was gradually extended, first to the Italian allies—fruit of their war of independence—and then by slow degrees to the provinces also. Now the people of our colonies need no admission to citizenship. They are already British subjects; the essence of the modern colonial relation is that they remain British subjects. The inhabitants of the colonies, each man by himself, are the equals of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom; this or that colonist may be an elector in the United Kingdom; let him come and live in the United Kingdom and he may become a member of Parliament, a cabinet minister, a peer of the realm. It is only the communities, as communities, that are subject. Now it would be quite possible to unite the mother-country and the colonies in a way that might be called at pleasure the removal of subjection or its aggravation. They might be united as Rome and her Italian allies were124 united, as Scotland, and Ireland were united to England. They might send members to the Parliament of the United Kingdom in fair proportion to their numbers. They would then have exactly the same control over the general affairs of the kingdom, “realm,” “empire,” whatever it is to be called, which the inhabitants of the United Kingdom have now. And, considering the geography of the case, it may be that, instead of Westminster, some point, some island perhaps, more central for the whole “empire” might be chosen as the place of assembly. But, with such an union as this, the local Legislatures of the colonies must be abolished. The Parliament of the whole “empire” must legislate for the whole “empire.” The colony, in short, must rise or sink to the level of a county. The soil of the colony, the people of the colony, would receive the most perfect equality with the soil and the people of the mother-country. Subjection would be utterly done away with. Canada would be no more subject than York. But a share in the control of the affairs of the whole empire would be bought by the loss of all special control over the affairs of the colony itself. Some might think that such a price would be too dear. Self-government, the kind of self-government which the colonies have hitherto125 enjoyed, would come to an end. There would be only that lesser self-government which belongs to an English county or borough; the internal affairs of any colony would be legislated for by an assembly in which the members for that colony might be outvoted. Subjection, in short, formally abolished, would practically be made more complete.

I believe that nobody proposes anything like this. I feel sure that every colony would at once reject such a scheme. Still such a scheme would be the consistent carrying out of one form of union, and that the most perfect form. But it may be said, We wish to preserve the colonial Parliaments, and at the same time to have members for the colonies in the Imperial Parliament. The question would then arise, the question which arises also in the case of Ireland, Are the colonial members to have votes in the affairs of the United Kingdom? If the Parliaments of the colonies are to remain, while members for the colonies have votes in the Imperial Parliament which, it is to be supposed, is still to settle the affairs of the United Kingdom, one of two results must come. If, while the affairs of the colonies are discussed in their own assemblies, the affairs of the United Kingdom are discussed in an assembly in which the representatives of the colonies126 have votes, then the mother-country will in truth become dependent on the colonies. The other alternative is that the dormant power of the Imperial Parliament to legislate for the colonies, a power which has never been formally laid aside, will be called into new being whenever it suits the purposes of the members for the United Kingdom. The difficulties and confusions of such a state as this would be endless; so would be those that would follow on the scheme which would doubtless be proposed as their remedy. That would be something like this. As the colonial Parliaments settle the affairs of the colonies, so let the Parliament of the United Kingdom still settle the affairs of the United Kingdom; let the colonial members who are added to it in its “Imperial” character vote only on “Imperial” questions, and leave the affairs of Great Britain and Ireland to be settled by the members for Great Britain and Ireland. But to say nothing of the odd position of men who would be members of Parliament on one division and not members of Parliament on another, how is the distinction to be drawn? Even in a real federal constitution, where the States surrender certain named powers to the federal authority and keep all other powers, questions will arise whether this or that point127 is of federal or cantonal competence. How much more will such questions arise when it may be asked in almost every case of legislation, Does this matter concern the colonies or not? Would, for instance, such a question as Irish Home Rule, or any change in any direction in the relations between Ireland and Great Britain, be looked on as an “Imperial” question, or as one touching Great Britain and Ireland only6? It is often hard enough to settle rules for assemblies called into being for the first time; but how much harder will it be, when an assembly has had for ages an absolutely boundless range of powers, and where every member has always had an equal voice on all subjects, to bring in a new class of members who shall have votes on certain classes of subjects only, and those classes of subjects which it will be practically impossible to define.

* * * * *

But, be any scheme of this kind good or bad, possible or impossible, it is not Federation. We have seen elsewhere what Federation means and how federations grow. A federal union involves a certain loss of power and position on the part of the states which unite to form128 it. But, as federations have been formed hitherto, that loss of power and position has either been merely nominal or else has been fully made up in other ways. When the Achaian cities, the Swiss cantons, the Batavian provinces, the American States, were threatened by enemies, whom they could resist only by union, it was worth their while to give up the independent power of peace and war; for each city or state to cleave to it would have meant for each city or state to be subdued singly. In some of these cases many of the states had never really exercised the independent powers of peace and war. There was no moment when Aargau or Indiana could have made war on its own account; and, if we say that there was a moment when Massachusetts or Pennsylvania might have done so, it was only an ideal moment which had no real historical being. In each of the great federal unions some of the members, in some of them all the members, distinctly gained in political position by entering the Union. Federation is a check on independence; but many of the states had never known separate independence. But it will be quite another thing to ask a great power, a ruling power, a mighty and ancient kingdom, which has for ages held its place among the foremost nations of the earth, to give up its dominion,129 to give up its independence, to sink of its own will to the level of a new State or Canton. It will be quite another thing to ask the Parliament of such a kingdom, a Parliament which has for ages been a sovereign assembly, which has for a very long time believed itself to be the first of all assemblies, a Parliament whose range of functions has been boundless, whose will has known no limit save the limits which the laws of nature impose on all wills—to ask such a Parliament as this to come down from its seat, to give up to some other assembly not yet in being the widest and greatest of its powers. In any real federation between the United Kingdom and the colonies, the Parliament of the United Kingdom would be no more than the Legislature of an American state or a Swiss canton; it would have to content itself with those lesser powers which it would not be called upon to surrender, with mere local powers over the mere local affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. No voice, direct or indirect, in the great business of the world could be allowed to such a purely local body, any more than it is at this moment allowed to the Legislature of Bern or of New York. We must look things in the face, and this is what we have to look130 in the face. Perhaps not one man in a thousand who has chattered about “Imperial Federation” has ever stopped to think what “federation” means, any more than he has stopped to think what “empire” means. Most likely he means something quite different from the picture which has just been drawn. Most likely he thinks that Great Britain and the Parliament of Great Britain will somehow become greater by becoming parts of an “Imperial Federation.” All this confusion comes of using words without thinking of their meaning. If by “federation” is meant some wholly new device, something the like of which is not to be found either in the existing world or in any past age of the world, we can better discuss the merits of the new device if it is called by some new name of its own, rather than if it uses old names like “empire” and “federation” in some strange sense. But if by federation is meant a known political system, a system which has existed in the past and which does exist in the present, if is meant such a constitution as once was in Achaia and Lykia, as actually is in Switzerland and America, then we may undoubtedly answer that such a demand was never yet made on any ruling people or any ruling assembly, and that the Parliament and people of Great Britain will assuredly not be the131 first to set the world the example of accepting it. Every man of us will feel his back set up if we are asked that the Houses of Lords and Commons shall become the Senate and House of Representatives, not of “Greater Britain,” which might haply be promotion, but of a mere canton of Greater Britain, a canton keeping for its Legislature powers somewhat larger, it may be, than those of a Town Council or a Court of Quarter Sessions, but powers as essentially local and secondary in their nature. This or that American or Australian colony may be naturally glad to meet the mother-country half-way; but will the mother-country be equally glad to go and meet them? To rise to the political level of Bern and New York in the existing world7, of Megalopolis132 and Xanthos in a past world, would be undoubted promotion for Victoria or New Zealand. It would hardly be promotion for Great Britain, for England or Scotland, or for Wales either, to sink to that political level.

Now some votaries of the federal scheme seem to see all this, which its more enthusiastic partisans seem not to have thought of. Such disputants do not argue for the perfect form of Federation, the Bundesstaat, the constitution of Achaia as it was, of Switzerland and America as they are. They would have us fall back on something more like the mere Staatenbund, the type of imperfect Federation which the Seven United Provinces never threw off, but which Switzerland, after a long experience, and the United States after a short one, did throw off in favour of those more perfect forms of Federation which they at present possess. It does not perhaps quite settle the question to say that this would be indeed a step backwards. It might be argued, at least as a specimen of ingenuity in disputation, that such a lax kind of union might possibly suit a confederation whose members lie at vast distances from one another, though it has been proved not133 to suit confederations whose members lie close together. And then one might argue back again that the physical disunion needed of itself to be, as far as might be, counterbalanced by the closest political union. In a mere Staatenbund all difficulties about the relations of the British Parliament to the new Federal Parliament would be got rid of; for there would be no need of any Federal Parliament. But either the union would have to be so lax as to be really no confederation at all, or else, even in this less perfect union, the British Parliament would still have to give up some of its chiefest and most cherished powers. Instead of a Federal Assembly, there would be a mere congress8 or conference of representatives from each member of the Union, a congress meeting to discuss the foreign affairs of the Union, perhaps with power to settle them, perhaps not.134 At present the foreign affairs of the kingdom, and of the “empire” too, are settled by the advisers of the Crown, subject to the indirect control of the British Parliament. And in a perfect federation, a Bundesstaat, this indirect system might go on, the indirect control being of course transferred from the British Parliament to the Parliament of the whole “empire.” But in a mere Staatenbund it is hard to see how an indirect control can be brought to bear upon anybody. If the Congress is to have authority to decide in foreign affairs, it must consist of representatives of the several members of the Union. Only then where would be the authority of the Crown and the responsibility of the ministers of the Crown? And with the authority of the Crown, the authority of Parliament, of all the Parliaments, will have vanished also. The only way of giving them, or leaving them, any authority, would be the helpless plan of making the congress merely consultative. It might be a body which should simply recommend measures, and leave them to be approved and carried out by the Legislatures and Executives of the several States, or possibly of some majority of them. This is in theory a possible form of union; but it is not exactly the form most likely to lead to speedy and energetic action, if a confederation scattered over every corner of the globe135 should be called on to strike a sudden blow for its political being.

In short, if the Bundesstaat is out of the question, the Staatenbund is yet more out of the question. The Bundesstaat is a form of constitution which has worked well in those cases where it has suited the circumstances of the time and place in which it has been introduced. Only it is not suited to the circumstances of Great Britain and her colonies, and it is not likely to work well among them. But it is not too much to say that the Staatenbund has never yet really worked well under any circumstances, and that it is certainly not likely to work well for the first time when applied to circumstances yet more unfavourable than any under which it has hitherto been tried.

* * * * *

But these are not the only difficulties about Imperial Federation. To whom is the federation to extend? To all the subjects of the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland? Or only to such of them as are European by dwelling-place or descent? Or, to come nearer to the point, we might put the question thus; Is it to take in only the subjects of the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, or the subjects of the Empress of India as well? This is a subject of some importance, about which136 it will be well clearly to know our own meaning. As yet, the doctrine of Imperial Federation is somewhat vague, and its objects are somewhat fluctuating. Sometimes we are told that the Imperial Federation is to be an union of all English-speaking people. The wiser advocates of the scheme see the difficulties, but they seem for the nonce to put them in their pockets. They do not talk either of a federation of all English-speaking people or of a federation of all the Queen’s dominions. They mention those parts of the Queen’s dominions, those parts of the English-speaking people, to which they wish their scheme of federation to extend, and they say nothing about any other parts of either. But this is not to go to the root of the matter, and it is humdrum work compared with the talk of the more enthusiastic votaries of “Imperial Federation.” It is to be the “federation of the Empire,” that is presumably of the whole “Empire;” and in some of the highest flights it would sometimes seem as if the “federation of the Empire,” and the “federation of all English-speaking people” were the same thing. Now about this last there are some other difficulties, of which we may say somewhat presently; at this stage the difficulty is that such a rule would not only shut out a few speakers of European tongues137 nearer home, it would not only shut out those uncivilized natives of colonial possessions who often save us all trouble by dying out before us, but it would further shut out the vast native population of India, a part of the subjects of the common sovereign of Great Britain and India who must be thought of one way or another. If we are to have a real federation of the Empire, the whole people of the Empire must be let in with full federal rights, as political equals of the Englishman of Britain and the Englishman of Australia. But this would be something very different from a federation of the English-speaking people. Such an enfranchisement as this would indeed be a leap in the dark, a leap such as no people ever took before. It is not for us to say what would be likely to come of it; let us rather ask those who talk about Imperial Federation whether they have thought what would be likely to come of it. Whenever the thing is to talk big about “empire,” its greatness, its “prestige,” all about the dominion on which the sun never sets, all about the drum-roll of the British army going the round of the world, then India is the dearest, the most cherished, the sublimest, part of the talk. “Imperial” interests, “imperial” greatness, “imperial” everything, seem specially at home in that land. It is the138 specially imperial soil. “Our Eastern Empire,” “our Indian Empire,” is the grandest subject of all for magnificent eloquence. And why? To speak the plain truth, because here the corporate Emperor “We” comes in on the grandest scale. “We” govern India; “we” hold the dominion of Aurungzebe; is not every British elector part of a great corporate Aurungzebe? But receive India to federation, and “we” cease to do all this. In a federation of the “Empire,” “we” must simply sink into the position of citizens of one or more of its states; the elector for London will be in no way privileged above the elector for Masulipatam. It may even be that the “we” shall be turned about, and that people at Masulipatam will begin to say how “we” govern England. Instead of every British elector being part of a corporate Aurungzebe, it may be that every Indian elector shall be part of a corporate William. Imperial Federation may take a shape in which England, Scotland, Canada, Australia, shall be dependencies of the Empire of India. For truly it will need some very artificial arrangement to secure even proportional representation for any of those small and distant cantons, lying so far away from the main centre of power and population. We must expect that in the Federal Assembly, “we,” even strengthened by “our” reinforcements from other139 English-speaking lands, will be defeated on every division by that vast majority of the people of the Empire who are not English-speaking. “Our” Imperial position will be, in truth, handed over to quite another “we,” a “we” of whom the old British and Jingo “we” will form a very small part indeed.

I shall of course be told that nothing of this kind is meant. And no doubt nothing of this kind is meant by anybody. Only, if so, people should not use words which mean either this or nothing. They should tell us distinctly what they do mean. The words “Imperial Federation,” “Federation of the Empire,” either mean nothing, or they mean that on all “imperial” questions the speakers of English shall be liable to be outvoted by the speakers of Tamul and Telugu. A federation which does not give these last equal federal rights with their European fellow-subjects is not a “Federation of the Empire,” but only of a small part of the “Empire.” Such a federation would be, as regards India, simply an enlargement of the dominant “we,” an admission of more members to “we”-ship and its privileges. The people of India have now for their masters the people of the United Kingdom only. They would then have for their masters the people of the United Kingdom and those of140 the British colonies also. Such an outcome might be highly imperial, but it would not be at all federal, at least not federal for the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Federal Empire. There would be a grand stroke indeed on behalf of “imperium,” but very little indeed would be done on behalf of “libertas.”

* * * * *

In truth, in this particular argument, India, so present to every mind in every other argument, India, the choicest flower of the Empire, the brightest jewel in the Imperial Crown—any other figure of speech that may spring of the oriental richness of an imperial fancy—seems suddenly to be forgotten. But another land seems also to be forgotten, a land which should surely be more to us than all the wonders of the East, a land whose kindred and friendship should surely be more precious to Englishmen than all the glories and all the treasures of a hundred thousand Great Moguls. If it would be a strange Federation of the Empire which should shut out the greater part of the inhabitants of the Empire, it would be a yet stranger Federation of the English-speaking people which should shut out the greater part of the English-speaking people. It is wonderful to see how the declaimers about “Greater Britain” and “Imperial Federation” seem ever and anon perplexed141 by the fact that there is on the western shore of Ocean, perhaps not a greater Britain, but assuredly a newer England. I believe that no one proposes that the Federation of the English-speaking people shall take in the United States of America; if any one does so propose, I honour him as being at once bolder and more logical than his brethren. But unless such a federation does take in the United States of America, it will assuredly be a very lame and imperfect federation. It is the most curious illustration of the modern theory of colonization, the substitution of mere personal allegiance for nationality in the higher sense, that any mind could take in for a moment the thought of a federation of the English-speaking people of which the United States should not form a part. In the ideas of too many on both sides of Ocean, the fact that the people of the United States are not subjects of the sovereign of the elder England hinders them from being looked at as Englishmen at all. The English of the United States have indeed something to get over. The memories of the War of Independence, the more grievous memories of the war of 1813, have made a sad gap between the two great branches of the same folk between whom, if only modern Europe had colonized on the wise principles of older times, there need never have been any gap at142 all. That our independent colonies—I use the name as a name of the highest honour—will ever join with us in a political federation is a thing hardly to be thought of. I have often dreamed that something like the Greek συμπολιτεία, a power in the citizens of each country of taking up the citizenship of the other at pleasure, might not be beyond hope; but I have never ventured even to dream of more than that. It is our bad luck at present that there are only two independent English nations, two English nations which parted in anger, and neither of which has quite got over the unpleasant circumstances of the parting. As long as there are only two such English nations, there is almost sure to be somewhat of jealousy, somewhat of rivalry, between the two. And there will always be on both sides people who take a strange pleasure in stirring up ill-feeling among kinsfolk. Surely, if there were three or four or five independent English nations, there would no longer be the same direct rivalry between any two of those nations; there would be far more chance of keeping up friendly feeling, more chance of keeping up, if not the impossible federation, yet something like an abiding political alliance, between all the members of the scattered English folk. The sentiment is possibly unpatriotic,143 but I cannot help looking on such a lasting friendly union of the English and English-speaking folk as an immeasurably higher object than the maintenance of any so-called British empire. I may judge wrongly; but it strikes me that the establishment of a rival federation, an “imperial” federation, is not the best way to keep up such a friendly union. A single federation, especially a federation which would be an immediate neighbour, would be likely to call out more active jealousies in the United States than are at present called out by the single kingdom and its dependencies. Towards several independent English nations, whatever might be the political constitution of each, feelings of this kind would be likely to be far less strong. We are told that, if we will not have Imperial Federation, we must have either “disintegration” or the continued “subjection” of the still dependent colonies. It is a question which as yet one cannot do more than whisper; but would “disintegration” be too dearly bought, if it carried with it the perfect independence of the United States of Australia, and a greater chance than we now have of keeping the lasting good will of the United States of America?


2 There are one or two other rather curious uses of the word “imperial” with regard to weights and measures, which it cannot be supposed had any reference to India or the colonies.

3 See an article by Mr. Forster in the Nineteenth Century for February, 1885, from which I have made some extracts.

4 This is historically true of the Achaian cities, of the Swiss cantons (in 1848), and of the original American States. All these really did cede certain powers and keep others. Of the American States admitted since the acceptance of the Federal Constitution by all the original States, it is not historically true, but it is true by a legal fiction. Massachusetts really ceded certain powers to the Union. Missouri never did, as a historical fact; but it did so by a legal fiction when it was admitted to the same rights and the same obligations as Massachusetts.

5 The second union of Greek cities under the headship of Athens comes nearest to such a change; but it is not a real precedent. The cities which formed the second Athenian alliance had once been subjects of Athens; but, when the second alliance was formed, they were subjects of Athens no longer; they entered the union as independent states. And the union was not really a federation, but only a close alliance. Moreover, before very long, Athens was at war with her own allies.

6 When I wrote this a year ago, I did not foresee that the question of Home Rule would become an immediately practical one before the question of Imperial Federation.

7 I am speaking here of political position, not of political power, still less of extent of territory or population. Bern is small, New York is great; but the political position of the two is the same; each is the greatest member of an equal confederation. And that political position is higher than that of any British colony, even though the Legislature of the colony may actually have, as in some cases it has, greater powers than the Legislature of the American State or Swiss canton. For the greater powers of the colony are mere grants from a higher authority; they are bestowed by royal charter or by Act of Parliament. But the smaller powers of the American State or Swiss canton are the inherent powers of an independent state. They are those powers which an independent state kept to itself and did not cede to the federal authority.

8 The use of the word Congress for the Federal Assembly of the United States is a curious instance of the survival of a word when the thing expressed by it has wholly changed its nature. Up to 1789 the United States had a body which had naturally borrowed the name of Congress from the diplomatic gatherings with which it had much in common. In 1789 this mere Congress gave way to a real Federal Parliament. But the Federal Parliament kept the name of the imperfect institution which it supplanted.


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