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India we very seldom have the courage to interfere effect-
ively ; and if we did, we would not prohibit white men from
possessing (for their own use, of course) arms which they
will sell at an enhanced price to natives. And so in Africa
and Oceania the trade in cheap arms goes merrily on.

The drink question is still more serious. Many simple
savages have not learned the art of providing themselves
with drinks of the strongest character. The white trader
finds, however, that the craze for strong drink is there, or
at least is easily developed, and that no trade is more
profitable than that founded on the supply of drink. Drink
he accordingly supplies. There is no doubt of the
desolation worked by this new supply of spirits to races
unaccustomed to them, and who have neither the moral nor
the physical stamina to resist them. Many of our officers,
keenly alive to the evil, have sought to stop it, but it is
not easy to do so. In places where exclusive British
authority has not been established the Germans are said to
be much given to the liquor traffic, and them we cannot
touch. But also within our territories or Protectorates
traders and grape-growers will not be wholly controlled. In
some districts we have got so far as, in a way, to prohibit
the supply of spirits to ordinary natives. Many of the
chiefs in consideration of being allowed freely to get drunk
themselves, have been willing and anxious to protect the
people from the evil. But the inalienable right of the

Protectorates. 127

British Christian to his Hquor is one which no Government
has ventured to contravene wherever he goes — so chiefs
and white men are exempted from the prohibition. History
repeats itself. When two or three hundred years ago whisky
was becoming far too common in Scotland, and it was
determined to save the Highlanders (then hardly considered
civilised Christians) from its effects, it was prohibited, but
chiefs, lairds, and gentlemen of good degree were exempted
from the prohibition. So it is when we attempt prohibition
in Africa. And when whites are allowed to obtain liquor
freely, and their neighbours the blacks are anxious to have
it and willing to pay handsomely for a supply, it goes
without saying that there is a good deal of neighbourly
accommodation, and the prohibition is by no means very
effectual. Even so much prohibition seems hardly to be
maintained when neighbouring Colonists are producers of
spirits and influential traders are engaged in the business.
Some British officers loudly complain of our failure to
protect the natives in this respect. The question is indeed
a sad and a serious one.



The Crown Colonies and other British territories and
Protectorates (outside tlie free Colonies and India), though
very numerous, and in the aggregate very important, are
none of them, taken singly, countries of the first magnitude
and importance, that is, so far as they have been reduced
into possession — we do not know what South Africa and
New Guinea may be some day. In the aggregate (thus
limited) they do not yet approacli in area the great terri-
tories of the free Colonies, nor in population to the great
Indian populations ; but their distinguishing feature is that
they are always growing, while in the other classes of
British territory we seem to have reached a sort of natural

While the Crown Colonies have, speaking generally, a
fair and, in some instances, a large amount of prosperity,
taken as a whole it cannot be said that they are excessively
prosperous and i>rofitable, as will be seen when we roughly
enumerate them. Speaking generally, we may say that most
of them nearly pay their way so far as regards the cost of
civil administration, and do not, in that shape, involve
direct expense to the Mother Country. It is only in certain
special cases that Parliamentary grants in aid are made.
And no doubt we bear a good deal of indirect cost involved
by these possessions, including the naval protection towards
which they contribute nothing. Some of them contribute
towards the cost of the military garrisons maintained within
their Hmits, but at most they pay only the direct charge in

Recapitulation of Crown Territories. 129

the Colony, and many of them do not pay that. By the
last account the total of all Colonial contributions to the
gross cost of British troops, was no more than ^^i 39,000.
For the considerable military posts the Mother Country
pays entirely, as also the cost of the Protectorates which
we have chosen to assume.

I will now mention the various possessions. Ceylon
has the largest population, and is, perhaps, in some respects,
the most important of the Crown Colonies. It is practic-
ally an outlying part of India, and is managed very much
on Indian principles. It has an area of 25,000 square
miles, a little less than Ireland (but the area includes some
considerable mountains), and a population approaching
three millions. The Ceylonese are a distinct people of
Indian origin, who have retained the Buddhist religion, but
a large part of the island is occupied by Tamils — Hindus
from the neighbouring districts of India — who also swarm
over in large numbers, in a purely voluntary way, to labour
on the Ceylon plantations. The island is fairly prosperous
and progressive. It does not grow enough food for its own
wants, but still produces some spices, &c., and is an
important field for British planters. Unfortunately, their
original industry — coffee planting— has fallen through, owing
to a disease in the plants, and they have taken to tea and
cinchona, in which they seem again to have good prospects
of success. Ceylon, however, has not been, and probably
never will be, the source of revenue and profit to the
Mother Country that some of the Dutch planting Colo-
nies used to be. The revenue does not more than
suffice for the administration, and only suffices be-
cause Ceylon is so placed in regard to India as to be
able to rely on India for military aid in case of need,
and therefore it can reduce its military expentliture to a
minimum. Even the very small payment which it makes
to the British Exchequer for troops, it was lately obliged

130 The British Emtire.

to beg off during the depression caused by the failure
of coffee.

The duties on food apart, the administration appears to
be fairly good and successful. We hear very little about it,
and that is a good sign. The people have been long in
contact with Arabs, and Dutch, and Portuguese ; there are
a good many Christians among them. We have now given
them much English education, and they seem to be fully
as advanced as any of our Indian peoples.

The Straits Settlements were originally, as has been
already stated, under the Government of India, and still
retain a good deal of the Indian character in their admini-
stration ; but, a few immigrants apart, the population is not
Indian. The natives are chiefly Malay ; but the most
important part of the population are the Chinese settlers,
who are there not only as mere labourers and servants, but
also as merchants and enterprisers rivalling the Europeans
in business, and greatly exceeding them in numbers. In
this part of the world, more than in any other, some of the
Chinese are really settlers, rather than mere birds of passage ;
in some cases they bring their wives and families, in other
cases intermarry with the people of the country. Most re-
markable of all, they consent to be buried in the country.
Even in the protected Malay States (the population of which
is but small) Chinamen, attracted by the mines, sometimes
exceed in number the native population ; and the necessity
of controlling the Chinese was the excuse for our interven-
tion. The total population of the Colony is given as
423,000, of whom five-sixths are Malays and Chinese in
about equal numbers, and the remainder a melee of various
nationalities. The revenue suffices for the administration.
Territorially the country is not of great importance ; but
commercially Singapore, and in a less degree Penang, are
important places. The great rise and prosperity of Singa-
pore as an entrejiot and place of trade are well known ;

Recapitulation of Crown Territories. 131

and it has gone on increasing in size and business,
though relatively it is, perhaps, not quite so important
as it was before Hong-Kong was created, and other
places rose. I imagine, too, that much of the great trade
shown in the statistics is due merely to its position as a
port of call.

Mauritius is a wonderfully successful producer of sugar
for its size ; but that is very small, only 700 square miles
altogether, and much of that is barren volcanic hills. It is
very fully populated, and, in respect of population, may be
said to be now, for the most part, an Indian country, the
great majority of the inhabitants being immigrants from
India — no longer mere indentured labourers, but now chiefly
settled Colonists. But the co-existence with these Indians
of a large minority (not very far short of one-third) of
European blood, who cannot get over their view of them-
selves as a superior race^ and of the Indians as an inferior
race imported to supply them with labour, make the admini-
stration very difficult, and render the experiment of self-
government now being initiated specially hazardous. We
can only hope for the best ; it must be very closely
watched. The revenue is good ; the Colony pays its
way well.

Though the West Indian Colonies are many, under
many separate Governments, they may be here grouped
together, including the Colonies on the mainland and all
the islands as far north as the Bermudas. None of them
are equal in resources to some of the foreign islands, especi-
ally Cuba ; but in the aggregate they are very important.
The total population is about 1,500,000, of whom the great
majority are Africans. Speaking generally, it cannot be said
that they are in recent times very prosperous ; and such
prosperity as some of them have is in great part due to im-
ported East Indian labour. British (iuiana, in particular,
seems almost entirely to rely on this labour, by the aid of

T32 The British Empire.

which it is still a successful sugar Colony. In most of the
other West Indian Colonies which have imported East
Indians they are still a comparatively small minority of the
population, and they are chiefly indentured labourers rather
than yet settled Colonists on a considerable scale. They
are generally imported only because the planters have failed
to come to terms with the emancipated negroes. It is
undoubtedly the case that, notwiihstanding all the favour-
able circumstances under which emancipation was effected
in the West Indies — the ample compensation to the planters,
the gradual emancipation, the very paternal care of the
British Government and people in this matter — the emanci-
pation has not been nearly as successful as in the Southern
States of America, where it took place under every con-
dition of disaster and irritation — -a great war, in which the
Southerners were beaten ; violent emancipation, without a
farthing of compensation ; a sort of saturnalia for a time of
negro domination under "carpet-bagger" guidance, which
might have demoralised any people. In spite of it all, the
Southern States have already settled down prosperous and
progressive, and raise much more cotton than ever they did ;
while the West Indian Colonies have been going down, and
are still crying to heaven, abusing a heartless British Go-
vernment, and importing coolies in a fragmentary sort of
way. It may be that cotton cultivation is better suited to
the negro genius than sugar ; but one can hardly believe
that the negro of Jamaica is really by nature more wicked
and troublesome than the negro of Georgia or South
Carolina. If he is, circumstances must have made him
so. The truth seems to be that, under the pressure of
necessity, the whites of the Southern States have faced
the situation bravely and honestly, have fully accepted
emancipation, and made the best of it ; while the West
Indians never heartily accepted it, have been influenced
by a repugnance to accept full equality before the law.

Recapitulation of Crown Territories. 133

and have been enabled by their old institutions in some
degree successfully to resist complete equality. So they
have maintained the struggle and cried for help, when
they had better have made the best of the situation, as
the Americans have.

There is much difference in the different Colonies. The
Bermudas are far off, and are, in fact, partly a naval station
and partly a market garden for the supply of early vegetables
to the United States, with a population of but 15,000. The
Bahamas, too, are a large Archipelago near the United
States, with a total population under 50,000. Honduras is
an undeveloped sort of Colony, of which wood-cutting is
the principal industry. Barbadoes is thickly populated, and
the blacks there are said to be much better and in a better
position than in the other Colonies. Trinidad has a large
Indian population, and is understood to be in some respects
in better case than most of the Islands. British Guiana has
a very large area, but most of it is scarcely known, and the
population of the known and cultivated part hardly exceeds
a quarter of a million. Everything has been done for the
West Indies that could be done consistently with our free-
trade principles. Very experienced Governors have been
sent and various new industries have been suggested. In
some instances, at least, things seem to be looking better.
Necessity has at last induced the planters in some of the
Islands to abandon their dislike to the acquisition of land
by the blacks and their combination in some cases to
prevent it. The last accounts from Jamaica (which,
with its population of near 600,000, is cjuite the most
important of these Colonies) are very encouraging. It
appears that there has now sprung up a large class of
negro peasant proprietors, and that the desire to own land
has very largely developed among the people in a way
which is likely to lead to the independence and thrift
attending peasant proprietorship. In fact, I understand a

134 The British Empire. .

large proportion of the blacks of Jamaica now own or
rent land.

St. Lucia seems to have a large number of freeholders,
and we are told that in Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada,
Montserrat, Nevis, and Dominica there are many native
cultivators, either as pro]:)netors or as renters on shares — the
equivalent of the victayc?- system, which also prevails in the
United States.

The blacks of the West Indies are Christians, and a
good deal seems to have been done to educate and civilise
them. With the exception of some Imperial aid to the
smaller Islands, the West Indies pay their own way by the
aid of the very objectionable food taxes, for which no
substitute has yet been found, and the effect of which is to
put the weight of taxation on the poorer classes. There
was question of substituting a land tax in Jamaica, but
whereas in Switzerland they are introducing a progressive
taxation, the rate increasing with the amount of property
or income, in Jamaica it was proposed to adopt a sort
of inversion of this system, the rate to be heavier on the
smaller properties, and decreasing as they increased up to
the properties of the large planters. That would not
be at all tolerable. Evidently there are a good many
things to be settled yet under the new constitution of

Both administratively and financially the West Indies
labour under great disadvantage in the great number of
different Governments and the great variety in their consti-
tutions, some being proper Crown Colonies, while others
have the remains of old constitutions. It would seem to be
desirable that they should be re-grouped and re-constituted
in a more systematic way, and put under a larger Govern-
ment or Governments, as Mr. C. S. Salmon proposes, though
whether they are in a position to be entrusted with as much
self-government as he would give them is a question. We

Recapitulation of Crown Territories. 135

must always remember our duty of protecting the coloured

We know by a long and sad experience what a terrible
trouble and great expense our South African possessions
have been to us, and continue so to be to the present day.
It would be useless to go through all that dull and dismal
story. The settled Colonies are tolerably prosperous, but
their development has been nothing at all approaching that
of the Australasian and American Colonies.

The Cape Colony has been touched on as now one of
the free Colonies, and Natal has also been a good deal
mentioned as a Crown Colony with a small white popula-
tion of large pretensions. In the old Cape Colony proper
the coloured population is largely made up of the relics of
slavery — the remnants of the old tribes of the region, and
the half-breeds called Bastards, most of whom may be said
to be more or less tamed, and welded into our system.
But in the farther provinces of the Colony, still more
beyond the Kei and in the region of the diamond fields,
the less-assimilated natives largely prevail.

Natal seems to be pretty prosperous as a planting,
trading, and speculating Colony ; but of the small white
population a part is the remnant of the Dutch settlement
which preceded the British Colony, and a large part of the
British seem to be yet only birds of passage rather than
permanent Colonists. The importation of East Indians has
already been mentioned. The natives, who form the vast
majority of the population, have not yet undergone any
considerable social amalgamation with the whites, and do
not labour regularly for them. They are chiefly located in
native reserves, and generally preserve their own laws and
customs. But, Zulus as they are, they now seem to be
peaceable enough. Though the white Colonists decline
military responsibility, they are ready enough to under-
take the task of governing the natives, and have lately

136 The British Empire.

volunteered to undertake the management of Zululand
beyond as well. It has been hinted, indeed, that they
have already considerable pecuniary and speculative in-
terests there.

Enclosed between the Cape Colony, the Orange Free
State, Natal, and the Indian Ocean is a considerable
territory, still mainly native. But the greater part of this
we have subjected and handed over to the management
of the Cape authorities. There remain only Pondoland
and Basutoland. Pondoland is a small territory near the
eastern coast. One half, under the name of Xesibeland,
we have already annexed and handed over to the Cape
by a late Order in Council.

Basutoland has a sad history, involving us in difficulties
of which we have not yet seen the end. After intervening
between the Basutos and the Orange Free State, we took
them under our protection, and, left very much to them-
selves, they became the best people in South Africa —
excellent agriculturists, possessed of flocks, and herds, and
horses, independent in their bearing, and comparatively
civilised. But, though their engagements were clearly with
us, in the desire to be rid of such matters we one day,
without in any way consulting them, made them over to
the Cape Colony. With the Colony they did not get on
so well. Certain transactions, resulting from a quarrel with
a sub-section of them, led them to suspect Colonial specu-
lators of having an eye to their lands. The Colony, on the
other hand, to make sure of their obedience, determined to
disarm them, and attempted to do so. The result is well
known. It was the act of the Colonists themselves, engage-
ments of the British Government notwithstanding. So they
tried to carry the measure out themselves. A regular war
resulted, and the Colonists, after great efforts and the ex-
penditure of very large sums, were thoroughly beaten. Then
the long-suffering British Government had to take the Basutos

Recapitulation of Crown Territories. 137

in hand. But the war had injured and demoralised them
too ] much of their industry was gone ; they had become
aggressive, drunken, jealous of one another. We have been
trying to deal with them by the moral influence of a British
oiricer, under very disadvantageous circumstances^ and seem
to be partially successful — more so than might have been
expected. Peace, however, in the Basuto territory seems
to have been continually hanging by a thread. The drink
question is a great trouble. We would much like to keep
out drink, but Cape Colonists make brandy, people on the
borders of the Free State and elsewhere sell it. White men
cannot be altogether excluded, and so we seem unable to
control the drink traffic. The future of Basutoland remains
to be seen.

Our troubles in Zululand, also, are too recent and too
little brought to an end to let us forget them. Zululand is,
as is to be seen on the map, a comparatively small country
abutting on the sea north of Natal. We remember how we
attacked the Zulus on very frivolous pretexts ; first got
beaten, then beat them; first deposed Cetewayo, then set
him up again; when he fell, first made friendly arrange-
ments with Usibepu and others, then allowed them to be
overturned by the Boers without remonstrance ; first solemnly
engaged the Boers of the Transvaal not to overstep their
eastern border, then quietly allowed them to take possession
of the greater part of Zululand ; finally declared we would
not intervene in that country at all, and now, last of all, have
announced our readiness to intervene and divide the country
with the Boers, in the form, on our side, of a British Protec-
torate of the part of the country nearest the sea. That is
the very latest, and we can only hope that it may succeed.
The declared object is to keep the Boers from the sea and
reserve a road to the Swazis and Amatongas, the only other
tribes who lie between our borders and the point where the
junction of the Transvaal with the Portuguese territory of

138 The British Empire.

Delagoa Bay cuts us off from the rest of Africa in that

The history of our transactions with the Boers beyond
the Cape Colony is still more painful. Long ago, when
they trekked away from us, we declared they should not
go free, and followed them. After much trouble and fight-
ing we gave it up, and entered into a formal convention
with them, by which we bound ourselves to leave them
alone beyond the Orange River, and not to cross it. That
gave peace for a good many years ; but when diamonds
were discovered, we disregarded the convention and appro-
priated the diamond region now made over to the Cape
Colony. Since then we have wholly set at naught the
convention, without particular reason assigned. We took
advantage of troubles in the Transvaal to annex it, and
sent a military commandant, who administered it in entire
disregard of the feelings of the Colonists. When it became
too hot for us, we changed our minds, and were quite wilUng
practically to surrender it. There was really nothing in
dispute. But our Government thought proper to vapour
about first establishing the authority of the Queen, and
permitted an ofificer of forward proclivities to drag us into
a senseless war, in which he was repeatedly beaten, and
our disasters were crowned at Majuba Hill. Then we
saw the blood-guiltiness of the w'hole affair, and came to
terms. But we could not, and have not yet made up our
minds what to do. First we stipulated for the protection
of the large native tribes in the territory over which the
Boers had exercised a nominal rule. Then we surrendered
them, but stipulated that the Boers should not extend east
or west, while we left them free to do as they liked to the
north. Then, in spite of this, they made large aggressions
to the east in Zululand, but we took no notice ; but finally,
when some Boer adventurers made some aggressions on a
smaller scale on two petty native chiefs to the west, we again

Recapitulation of Crown Territories. 139

went on the war-path. The Boers were in the wrong, and
we were quite entitled to act against them if we chose ; but
why we suffered so mucli aggression in Zululand, where we
had substantial ground for interference and great facility for
doing so, but interfered in Bechuanaland, where we had no
need to do so, in a country in the heart of Africa, so far
removed from our resources, is and must remain a mystery.
We were under no obligation whatever towards the chiefs
who had suffered from the Boers. Besides the wish to

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Online LibraryGeorge CampbellThe British empire → online text (page 11 of 17)