Charles Wentworth Dilke.

Problems of Greater Britain online

. (page 55 of 94)
Online LibraryCharles Wentworth DilkeProblems of Greater Britain → online text (page 55 of 94)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

so does the climate from almost the hottest of the globe to that
of cold tablelands and frozen peaks. The driest and the wettest
parts of the whole world are both in India, and the colour
of the people varies from the black of the peasantry of the
Ganges delta to the white of the aristocracy of Kashmir, while
the features range from the low types of the Mongolians, and
of the aborigines of the Bengal hills, to a purely classic type in
the far North West. I have described in Greater Britain the
river front of Benares, the Golden Temple at Amritsir, the Taj
— incomparably the finest building in the world — and the walls
of Agra, the pearl mosques of that city and of Delhi, and the
scenery of Central India. I have written of the street life, of
the water-carriers and the pariah dogs, of the crows and the
screaming kites, of the cream-coloured humped cattle, of the
strange music, of the green parrots in the trees, of the never-
ending sunshine, of the bronze-statue-like figures of the women
bearing loads ; and all that I at that time saw I have seen
again, except that the cantonments, which at my first visit
were so many brickfields, now resemble Batavia in being so
many cities of trees in which one can hardly find the houses for
the forest — the only change to the eye in India. But in my
last visit I was able twice to realise the feeling with whicli
the successive waves of conquerors have seen the dark plains of
India from the grand passes of the Afghan hills, with the glitter-
ing serpent streaks of the Indus and its tributaries standing
out before them in the dust and smoke.
Impossi- The English tourists who visit India each year in increasing
bility of numbers, which would grow, I am sure, more rapidly were ft


not for the fear of overtaxing the hospitality of Indian friends, grasping
resort to the interior of the peninsula in that cold weather when the diffi-
the fields are green, the towns a garden, and the air in the soft culties of
sunshine the most baliny that can be found. They can bring 'li^ Indian
back with them but little notion of the real terrors of an Indian Problem m
life, and those who would judge for themselves of one of the ^° ,

freatest difficulties of Indian rule should follow the example of ^''^^ ^^'
rofessor Eobert Wallace, recorded in his India in 1887, and
visit the country in the other two-thirds of the year. The idea
of tlie possibility of British settlement, unless it is in the hills
of the North-west Frontier or in Kashmir, will be speedily
dispelled. From March to November in the south, from April
to October in the north, the plains of India are a furnace from
which all who can escape. Tlie only relief is in the rain storms,
and the rain storms ai-e more unhealthy than the heat. In the
hot weather there are delights, however, which make the joy of
travellers, but which have a different aspect to those who are
condemned to dwell in the plains unceasingly. Dawn is beau-
tiful, and sunrise with its ilecks of scarlet, and at night the
Eastern russet moon rising from the smoking plains, heavy with
their perpetual dust, until it becomes silver as it bathes them
in its light and extinguishes the starlight from overhead ; but
from sunrise until the hour when the brick-red sun sets in a
black strip of sky there is nothing before even travellers except
the deadly monotony of the long Indian hot- weather day.
Beautiful as is India in its cold season, there are few English-
men who would not prefer to live amid the colossal masses of
the silent hills of the North West, rising range upon range from
the steaming plains, rather than in the more fertile country,
with the flowery winter season, but destructive through its
summer to the English race.





Under the coiiveiiieiit popvilar name of " Crown Colonies " I Popular
have to treat of those colonies, dependencies, jjrotectorates, and and
spheres of iiifluence of Great Britain which remain for notice scientific
after India and the North American, Australasian, and South meanings
African groups have been disposed of. We have dealt with the °f '1"® t*'!'™
present position of colonies possessed of responsible govern- Crown
ment, in which tlie Crown has only a veto on legislation, and Colonies,
the Colonial Office no control over any public officer except the
Governor. We have now to deal with the position and pros-
pects of the Crown Colonies proper, in which the Colonial
Office possesses the control of legislation and administration,
and with those of an intermediate class of colonies, which pos-
sess repi'esentative institutions, but not resijonsible government,
while the Colonial Office retains control over their public
officers. The Crown Colonies proper include some in which laws
may be made by the Govex'nor alone, while in others they are
made by the Governor with the concurrence of a nominated
Council. In a portion of the latter class, as, for example, in
Ceylon and Mauritius, the authority of the Council rests only
on prerogative. In others, as, for example, the Straits Settle-
ments, it is based on statute, though in most of these a power
is reserved to make laws by Order in Council. The inter-
mediate class of colonies — which, so far as they have not already
been described, will, for the sake of convenience, be dealt with
also in this chapter, as, like the others, they are chiefly tropical
plantations — are considered " Crown Colonies " by the public
though not by the Colonial Office. In these the Crown cannot,
as a general rule, legislate by Order in Council, and laws are
made by the Governor with the concurrence of one or two legis-
lative bodies, of which one at least is wholly or for the most
part representative. In Bahamas, Barbados, and Bermuda,
for example, there is a nominated Council and an elective
Assembly ; while in Natal and Western Australia, already
named, we have specimens of colonies possessing representative
but not responsible institutions, in which there is a single
Legislative Chamber partly elective and partly nominated by
the Crown. The public, however, are substantially in the right




in classing the intermediate group as " Crown Colonies," inas-
much as executive power is in fact in the hands of persons
selected by the Colonial Office.
Varieties It will be seen that even befoi'e we come to consider depend-

of Crown encies of colonies, possessions of the Crown which lie altogether
Colonies, outside of the colonial system, protectorates, and spheres of
influence, we have to do with settlements of many kinds. In
some Crown Colonies the primary object in the occupation is
the maintenance of a fortress or of a coaling station. In others
the matter in view is plantation, or foreign trade. In some the
23opulation is all white ; in others the white population is con-
siderable, but there is a large native black or " coloured " popu-
lation to whom representative institutions, if limited by a high
franchise, might be unfavourable ; in others the population
is almost wholly black. The West Indies present us with
examples of colonies formerly possessing a large share of self-
government, but a share virtually confined to the wliite race, in
which the constitutions have been surrendered and the power
of the Crown brought in for the protection of the blacks. In
some of the colonies possessing representative but not respon-
sible institutions the local Parliaments are very strong, but
represent only the white minority — the imported blacks or the
natives being almost unheard — while in. others power is passing
to the dai'k-skinned races.
Depend- Besides, then, the great colonies and India, which have been

encies of dealt with, we find British colonies and dependencies scattered
Depend- over the whole earth and administered on every system known
encies. iq political man. India has her dependencies. Burmah, which
is sometimes mentioned as though a separate dependency, is
politically a part of India, as are the Andamans and Aden ; but
Perim is a dependency of Aden, the Laccadives are a depend-
ency of India, and the protectorate over Baluchistan — so real
as to make the country virtually British — is an Indian
protectorate. As India has her dependencies, so have New
Zealand and New South Wales, Mauritius, the Straits Settle-
ments, and Ceylon. Lord Howe Island, 600 miles from Sydney,
is part of New South Wales, while Norfolk Island and Pitcairn
are British territory, and under the Governor of New Soutli
Wales, but do not form part of that colony. Chatham Island
and the Kermadec Islands, even farther removed from
WelHngton and from Auckland respectively than is Lord Howe
Island from Sydney, are dependencies of New Zealand.
Chatham Island, on which there is both a white and an
imported native-population, is governed by a representative of
the New Zealand administration, who has lately had his
difficulties, caused by the worrying of flocks by dogs belonging
to the decreasing Moriori tribe, and has had to send for troops.
The Seychelles are dependencies of Mauritius, from wliich they
are distant nearly a thousand miles ; the Maldives are tributary
to Ceylon, and the Cocos dependencies of tlie Straits. In SoutJi
Africa the dependencies of the Cape and of Natal have been


mentioned, as have the new British colonies, protectorates, and
sphere of influence, and the detached colony of St. Helena and
the Admiralty post of Ascension.

More peculiar than even the dependencies of dependencies British
are the parcels of British territory separate from the United territory-
Kingdom, and yet altogether outside the Colonial and Indian separate
systems, such, for example, as the Isle of Man with its curious J™™
constitution, and the Claannel Islands, the most ancient of the !;" ,
dominions of the Crown, the inhabitants of which declare that cinio'^i'^'
the United Kingdom is a dependency of theirs. ^^^ j^^i-j^

In this chapter I shall have to deal mainly with Crown rpj.Qpj(.j^i"
Colonies in the popular or wider sense of the term, but must settle-
mention our protectorates and our " spheres of British interest," ments.
"British influence," or "British activity," to use the cant
phrases which came in in 1885, after the African Conference at
Berlin. ; and I shall also name the new chartered companies,
such as those for the Lower Niger, the Zanzibar coast, and for
North Borneo, to which indeed, on account of their novelty and
of the future which they seem to have before them, I shall
assign priority over the old Crown Colonies. As I have been
dealing hitherto with the Empire of India, or with our ofishoot
the United States, or with colonies in which white men of our
race can work on the land and bring up healthy children, so
now I have to investigate the condition of what are called
tropical colonies, in which the white men induce others to do
their work. The British, the Russian, the Hispano-American,
and the Chinese races hold between them almost all the
temperate lands of the globe outside of Europe. Germany and
France in their recent occupations of territory in Africa and
the Pacific have been driven to found colonies of the tropical
type ; while the Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese, as well as the
French themselves, already had great dominions of the kind.
By their population, their extent of territory, their trade, and
their resources, the British tropical colonies outside India form
only one (ranking at present fourth) of several groups which
from year to year may vary in relative importance. When
books are written, as many have been, upon the colonies of
France, they naturally give enormous space to the discussion
of problems which, except so far as they concern comparatively
small parts of Hindostan, are for the British Empire of
secondary importance. The masters of India, the explorers of
Australia, cannot give so great a share of their attention to
the British West Indies, Ceylon, Mauritius, and such depend-
encies, as Holland gives to Java, or France to Martinique,
Guadeloupe, Reunion, and Cochin-China.

Among the English-governed countries there are then two Two classes
great groups. To the one belong Canada, Australia except its of English-
northern coast. New Zealand, Cape Colony, and Bechuanaland ; governed
to the other India, a large part of the British African coast, the countries
Northern Territory of Australia, as well as Ceylon, Mauritius, ^"ross the
Labuan, and North Borneo, British Guiana, British Plonduras, ^^"-^^


the West India and other islands, and the territories under the
control of the Niger Company and of the East Africa Company.
The former group are the temperate colonies, where, even as
near to the equator as Queensland, the English race can labour
in the open air, and where the native races consisted mainly of
peoples like the Red Indian or the Australian aboriginal, of
small numbers, who lived by the chase and made little or no
use of the soil. In the other group, of which India is the great
example, the English find themselves ruling nations and races
that they cannot hope to replace. We may indeed try to
change them in the islands or the small peninsulas ; to
substitute one black or yellow people for another, as the
negroes have been substituted for the Caribs in the West India
Islands, and as Hindoos are being in turn substituted for
negroes as labourers in some of these ; or as the Chinese in
Ijarts of British Malaya have taken as workers the place of the
Malays ; but we cannot do without the coloured man, nor
conveniently till the soil. Most of these countries of dark-
skinned labour which are under British rule are Crown Colonies
(except India, of which we have already treated, and which is
indeed in a similar position), and most of the Crown Colonies
consist of countries of this description. There are a few military
stations and a few trading posts, some of which lie outside the
tropics, where Englishmen could work if the local resources
were sufficient to attract them ; but in the main the Crown
Colonies and the habitation colonies form two separate classes.
In some parts of India, as, for example, in the tea districts of
Assam and the coffee districts of Madras, we encourage English
and Scotch planters, but in the old settled districts of Hindostan
the native landlords will continue to exist, and the social
problems there presented to us are different from those of our
Crown Colonies, or of the tropical colonies of France, Holland,
Spain, Portugal, and the German Empire. The advance made
during the Queen's reign by the self-governing colonies of the
Empire has been so remarkable, in regard alike to the growth
of population, the development of resources, and intellectual
and social progress, that the Crown Colonies, on which in
former days was concentrated most of the interest that was
felt in British enterprise beyond the seas, have been thrown by
comparison into the background.

The colonies and dependencies of which I have now to treat
do not at first sight seem to illustrate the expansive power of
our race to the same extent as do Australasia, North America,
or South Africa. The old tropical colonies, as, for example,
those of the West Indies, apjoear to the eyes of some observers
to have exhausted their vitality and entered upon a period of
decline. There are, however, new fields open to British energy
in tropical Africa which present us with an early view of the
colonial problems of the twentieth century, for the development
of Africa by railroad enterprise must be the work mainly of
the next generation. As regards t1ie older tropical colonies, it


would be unfair to apply to them the same standard by wliicli
we measure the growth of the self-governing colonies. With
the exception of those military or naval stations to which I
have referred, the Crown Colonies are either situate in low
ground within the tropics, or, like Cyprus, Bermuda, and the
extra-tropical portion of Bahamas, possess a similar climate.
They are unsuited to European labour, and in some degree to
permanent European residence, inasmuch as upon their rich
low lands European children j)ine or die.

Moreover, instead of having wide fields for settlement, our
older tropical colonies are either small or densely inhabited by
dark-skinned races. In most of them the British planters
incurred in the last generation great losses in consequence of Slavery,
the cessation of slave labour, and found much difficulty in
obtaining an efficient substitute, while the consequent increase
in cost of production was followed by so heavy a fall in the
price of the chief among the articles which they produced as Sugar,
seemed to have consummated the ruin of the colonies them-
selves. Observers at home naturally turned away from the
contemplation of what they thought was a picture of decay to
the consideration of the brighter prospects of the larger colonies,
inhabited, except in the cases of South Africa and of Quebec,
by a homogeneous population, and having about them infinite
power of development — life, hope, and promise. At the same
time the Crown Colonies are important to us still, and their
decay, if decay there was, is at an end. They include in Europe Of what
the stations of Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, and Heligoland, the the Crown
chief of which wiU be dealt with under the head of Imperial Colonies
Defence ; in America little besides British Guiana, Bi'itish consist.
Honduras, and the West-India Islands ; in Africa the West
Coast Settlements, Mauritius with its deisendencies, and Natal
and others which have been described under the head of South
Africa ; in Australasia, Fiji and British New Guinea, besides
that Western Australia to wliich responsible government is
immediately to be given ; and in Asia, Ceylon, the Straits
Settlements, Labuan, and Hong-Kong. If even we exclude
from view the British spheres of influence, or, as the Germans
say, of "interest," upon the Niger, in East Africa, in North
Borneo, and in Northern Bechuanalancl, as well as the protec-
torates, the population in Crown Colonies under direct British
rule is almost equal to the pojDulation of all the rest of the
colonies put together, and the volume of external trade of the
Crown Colonies greatly in. excess of that of the other colonies
if those of the Australian continent be omitted.

I have already foreshadowed the view that in our new Protector-
protectorates, and in the spheres of influence which have ates and
been reserved to us in Africa, are to be found the more spheres of
important Crown Colonies of the future, in which tlie problems mflucuce.
that have been presented by the older tropical plantations of
the West Indies, Mauritius and Ceylon and the West Coast
settlements will be solved in the next century upon a larger


scale. As the interest, then, of our new African and Pacific
tropical dependencies is greater than that which attaches even
to the West Indian colonies with their romantic history, I deal
first with Africa and with the Pacific. No apology is needed
for omitting from consideration here those groups which have
been already dealt with in the South African jjart, and Western
Australia — included in that Australian continent which has
been treated as a whole. Fiji too has been already named as
represented on the Federal Council of Australasia, and New
Guinea as a dependency of Australia, although I shall have
a few more words to say of the Papuan island. Among the
protectorates, which I have as yet left out of account, are
the protected States of the Malay peninsula ; the protected
islands of the Pacific ; the northern Somali Territory, or
southern shore of the Gulf of Aden from the mouth of the Red
Sea towards Cape Guardafui ; as well as Sarawak and Brunei,
which have also lately come under our protection. More
important, however, are the vast " spheres of influence," full of
the possibilities of the future, — new Indias of the next
generation, like the Niger ; twentieth-century Australias, lite
the tablelands of the Zambesi banks and the high lands of East
Africa. Recent annexations, proclamations, and treaties of
delimitation have given indeed to Great Britain, in Southern,
and in Eastern Africa, and between the Gulf of Guinea and
the Soudan, as well as in the South -Western Pacific, regions
which possess the highest prospective value, and two out of
four of which may ultimately be found to have the advantage
over India of being better suited, as regards their vast table-
lands, to the health of the white race.
Change of Great Britain has been forced by stress of circumstances
policy in to suddenly alter her policy in Africa. Up to the winter of
1884. 1884-85 she had refused as a rule to make annexations of

territory, and preferred to deal by treaty with the savage
chiefs, insisting only upon order and free trade. As late as
1883 it was laid down in a text-book upon the subject,^
" that the policy of England discourages any increase of
territory in tropical countries already occupied by native
races." We had allowed the French to occupy New Caledonia,
and other Pacific groups and single islands, which had been
discovered, named, and taken possession of for the British
Crown by British navigators. VVe had declined a protectorate
of Zanzibar : we had refused the heirship to the late Sultan of
Zanzibar, with the reversion of his dominions. We had
repeatedly declined the Cameroons. We had declined to ratify
the annexation by the Australians of half New Guinea. We
had refused to accept the Cameron treaty yielding to us the
Congo basin of Central Africa. Both political parties had
followed this policy : Mr. Disraeli had refused the Congo
and the Cameroons ; Mr. Gladstone had refused the Cameroons,
Zanzibar, and half New Guinea. The annexation of Fiji, as
'■ The Colonies, by E. J. Payne. Macmillan and Co.


I shall have to show, was, under the circumstances in which
it happened, hardly an exception. In consequence of French
and German annexations, and the fear of the possible exclusion
of our trade from the countries taken by our rivals, a change of
policy began in the time of Mr. Gladstone's second administra-
tion. After refusing the Cameroons and half New Guinea, and
while refusing Zanzibar, he ended by hoisting the British flag
in more than a quarter of New Guinea. The question of the
acceptance of the Cameroons was reopened, and was actually
under the consideration of the Treasury at the moment when
the Germans occupied that district. A sudden change of policy
had occurred on the part of two other powers, and we followed
suit. For some time before 1884 there had been but little seen
of the annexation of whole countries for the sake of trade, and
the grant of the North Borneo charter at the end of 1881 was a
curious exception to a general rule, in which at first the re-
sponsibility of the United Kingdom and of Government was
purposely made small. The British Empire and the Eussian
Empire had spread rapidly no doubt, but the annexations had
hardly been made with the deliberate design of subduing new
countries for commercial reasons. By their attack upon the
regions of the Upper Niger, by their annexation of Tunis and
Tonquin, and by their war in Madagascar the French, and
by the annexation of the west coast of South Africa the
Germans, gave the signal for what has been called the
" scramble " of 1885, whicli seems to have swallowed up all
Africa and the Pacific islands, at all events as far as the
map-makers are concerned, for the profit of North -Western
Europe. The change of policy on the part of the United
Kingdom was the consequence of the action of her would-be
colonial rivals. The administration which had refused all
eastern New Guinea was glad to secure the south-eastern
portion of that island ; and its successors — the same men
who had declined the Congo basin when it had been ofiered
in the treaties of an explorer — were glad to receive European
acknowledgment for spheres of influence on the Lower Niger
and the northern part of the Zanzibar coast.

On the whole, we have probably been no losers by not being Results,
among the first when the European Powers rushed upon Africa
and the Pacific like so many birds of prey. In Western Africa,
indeed, we by our delay the mountains of the Cameroons,

Online LibraryCharles Wentworth DilkeProblems of Greater Britain → online text (page 55 of 94)