John Lubbock.

The use of life; online

. (page 7 of 14)
Online LibraryJohn LubbockThe use of life; → online text (page 7 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

happiness : and when you do consider what
mischief they have committed, what dangers
they have escaped (and yet twenty to one
do perish in the adventure), then think well
with yourself, whether ye would that your
own son should come to wisdom and happi-
ness by the way of such experience or no."

The choice of books, like that of friends,
is a serious duty. We are as responsible for
what we read as for what we do. A good
book, in the noble words of Milton, " is the
precious life-blood of a master spirit, em-



balmed and treasured up on purpose to a
life beyond life."

Ruskin in his chapter on the Education
of Girls well says, " Let us be sure that her
books are not heaped up in her lap as they
fall out of the package of the circulating
library, wet with the last and lightest spray
of the fount of folly."

To get the greatest amount, I will not
merely say of benefit, but even of enjoyment,
from books, we must read for improvement
rather than for amusement. Light and en-
tertaining books are valuable, just as sugar
is an important article of food, especially for
children, but we cannot live upon it.

Moreover, there are books which are no
books, and to read which is mere waste of
time ; while there are others so bad, that we
cannot read them without pollution ; which
if they were men we should kick into the
street. There are cases in which it is well
to be warned against the temptations and
dangers of life, but anything which familiar-
ises us with evil, is itself an evil.

So also there are others, happily many


others, which no one can read without being
the better for them. By useful literature we
do not mean that only which will help a man
in his business or profession. That is useful,
no doubt, but by no means the highest use
of books. The best books elevate us into a
region of disinterested thought where per-
sonal objects fade into insignificance, and
the troubles and the anxieties of the world
are almost forgotten.

Interruptions at such a time are a positive
cruelty, against which Hamerton makes a
pathetic protest. "Suppose a reader per-
fectly absorbed in his author, an author be-
longing very likely to another age and
another civilisation entirely different from
ours. Suppose you are reading the Defence
of Socrates in Plato, and have the whole
scene before you as in a picture : the tribunal
of the five hundred, the pure Greek archi-
tecture, the interested Athenian public, the
odious Melitus, the envious enemies, the be-
loved and grieving friends whose names are
dear to us and immortal ; and in the centre
you see one figure draped like a poor man,


in cheap and common cloth, that he wears
winter and summer, with a face plain to
downright ugliness, but an air of such genu-
ine courage and self-possession that no act-
ing could imitate it, and you hear the firm
voice saying

Tiju-arcu 8* ovv avrjp OavaTov Ele*>.

You are just beginning the splendid para-
graph where Socrates condemns himself to
maintenance in the Prytaneum, and if you
can only be safe from interruption till it is
finished, you will have one of those noble
minutes of noble pleasure which are the re-
wards of intellectual toil."

No one can read a good and interesting
book for an hour without being the better
and the happier for it. Not merely for the
moment, but the memory remains with us :
stores of bright and happy thoughts which we
can call up when we will.

"Even their phantoms rise before us,

Our loftier brethren, but one in blood ;
At bed and table they lord it o'er us,

With looks of beauty and words of good."


Bret Harte, describing a scene at a miner's
camp in the far West, says

"The roaring camp fire, with rude humour, painted

The ruddy tints of health,
On haggard face and form that drooped and fainted

In the fierce race for wealth.
Till one arose, and from his pack's scant treasure

A hoarded volume drew,
And cards were dropped from hands of listless leisure

To hear the tale anew.
And then while round them shadows gathered faster,

And as the firelight fell,
He read aloud the book wherein the master

Has writ of 'little Nell/
Perhaps 'twas boyish fancy for the reader

Was youngest of them all,
But, as he read, from clustering pine and cedar

A silence seemed to fall,
The fir-trees gathering closer in the shadow,

Listened in every spray,

While the whole camp, with 'Nell' on English

Wandered and lost their way."

English literature is the birthright and in-
heritance of the English race. We have pro-
duced and are producing some of the greatest
of poets, of philosophers, of men of science.
No race can boast a brighter, purer, or nobler


literature, richer than our commerce, more
powerful than our arms. It is the true pride
and glory of our country, and for it we can-
not be too thankful.



IF ever there was a country for which a
man might work with pride, surely it is our

"O England ! model to thy inward greatness
Like little body with a mighty heart."

As regards size, a mere speck on the Ocean ;
and yet more than half the ships on the Wide
Seas fly the British Flag.

No doubt the geographical position is fa-
vourable. Our climate is genial and yet brac-
ing ; and the silver streak has saved us from
many wars.

" This sceptr'd isle,

This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-Paradise,
This fortress, built by Nature for herself
'Gainst infection, and the hand of war:


This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall ;
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happy lands." 1

An orator in the United States is said to
have described his country as being bounded
on the South by the Equator, on the East by
the Atlantic Ocean, on the North by the
Aurora Borealis, and on the West by the
setting sun'; we can say with more truth that
the Sun never sets on the British Empire.

" Britannia needs no bulwarks,
No towers along the steep,
Her march is o'er the mountain waves,
Her home is on the deep." 2

In the words of an American statesman,
" Her flag waves on every sea and in every
port, and the morning drum-beat of her sol-
diers, following the sun and keeping company
with the hours, circles the earth with one
continuous strain of the martial airs of Eng-

But we may reflect with still greater sat-
isfaction that our soldiers are everywhere

1 Shakespeare. 2 Campbell.


present not as enemies, but as friends and
protectors. The motto of our Volunteers,
"Defence, not Defiance," is equally applica-
ble to our Army and Navy.

This great Empire has grown up gradually.
We owe it to the energy and industry of our
forefathers, and we must indeed be degener-
ate, if we do not feel that " Come what Come
may," we are bound to hand it down to our
children, not merely unimpaired, but strength-
ened and improved.

In our history there has no doubt been
much to regret. But yet as contrasted with
that of other nations, it has been compara-
tively bloodless.

Apart from actual war, no country with
so long a history has been stained by so little
bloodshed; we have had no massacres, no
Reign of Terror, no Sicilian Vespers.

In war we have shown much generosity
to our enemies. At the end of the Great
Struggle with Napoleon, when the power of
France was crushed, and the Allies occupied
Paris, we agreed to terms which left France
her territories and colonies intact (on the sole


condition, as regards the latter, that she would
agree to surrender the slave trade), and free
from debt, while we ourselves had incurred
one, mainly arising from the war, of over
900,000,000 ! When we look back on the
terms, our statesmen behaved with a gener-
osity which was perhaps hardly wise; and we
can scarcely wonder that some Frenchmen
claim Waterloo as a French victory. At any
rate the terms of peace were far more favour-
able to her than to us.

I have mentioned the restoration of the
French Colonies a small part of the ex-
ertions and sacrifices made to put down
this abominable traffic. We paid Portugal
300,000 and Spain 400,000 to induce
those countries to give up the traffic. For
more than half a century, at a time when we
had a crushing debt, and were far less pros-
perous or powerful than we are now, we kept
a squadron on the West Coast of Africa, at
an annual cost estimated by Mr. Gladstone
when Chancellor of the Exchequer at 700,000
a year, and at a great sacrifice of valuable
lives. We paid the West Indies and Mauri-


this 20,000,000 to free their slaves. Alto-
gether the noble efforts to put down this
abominable traffic must have cost the country
something between 50 and 100,000,000

Other countries have drawn a considerable
portion of their revenue from their colonies
and dependencies.

The Athenians exacted a large annual con-
tribution from their allied states ; this formed,
indeed, a very important portion of their
revenue. With the Romans it was a cardi-
nal principle of taxation that the provinces
were to defray the expenses of the Empire.
When they conquered Sicily they took a
tenth of the field produce, and 5 per cent of
the value of all exports and imports. Com-
ing down to more recent times, other coun-
tries as, for instance, Spain, Portugal, and
Holland have derived considerable revenues
from their colonial possessions.

Very different has been the conduct of
England. So far from deriving any revenue
from our Colonies, we have spent enormous
sums of money for their benefit. So far as I


have been able to ascertain, no account has
been published showing the amount spent by
the mother-country in the Colonies before the
year 1859 ; but from 1859 to 1869 it amounted
to more than 41,000,000, and no doubt for
many years previously the amount was much
over 4,000,000 a year.

Moreover, the actual cost to the mother-
country was considerably greater, because the
return does not include the cost of arms, ac-
coutrements, barracks, hospital, and other
stores, nor any proportion for recruiting
expenses, head-quarter expenses, or non-
effective charges.

It may be said that our Mediterranean
military expenditure can hardly be called
" colonial," and it is of course true that we
could not expect such stations as Malta and
Gibraltar to pay their own expenses. On
the other hand, our great reason for keeping
them up is in order to protect our communi-
cations with India and Australia ; and if we
were disposed to do so, we might well ask
why the burden of keeping up these commu-
nications should fall altogether on us, why


some part of the cost should not be borne by
India and the Australasian colonies. More-
over, the above-mentioned expenditure refers
only to the troops on service out of the
mother-country ; but inasmuch as even the
troops at home are available in case of need
(and after due provision has been made for
our own safety) for colonial purposes, we
might well expect to receive some contribu-
tion towards the permanent expenses.

Our national accounts show no sum devoted
nominally to naval expenses on account of
our Colonies ; yet, in fact, this country bears
almost the whole of the naval expenses,
which, if the Colonies were independent,
would fall on them. For them we act as
the police of the seas ; their shores are pro-
tected at our expense. What a saving this
is to them, little consideration is required to
show: 35,000,000 of Englishmen in Great
Britain and Ireland pay 18,000,000 a year
for naval purposes; 300,000,000 of our
fellow-countrymen in the Colonies and India
pay scarcely anything.

Take, again, the case of India. It is


hardly necessary to say that India makes no
direct contribution to the general expenses of
the Empire, nor to those home charges., from
which she, like our Colonies, derives great
advantage. No English labourer, no English
tax-payer, derives a penny of direct advan-
tage, or pays a penny less*towards the reve-
nues of the country, because we hold India.

So far as military expenditure is concerned,
the greatest care is taken that India should
pay nothing beyond what is necessary for the
troops actually on duty there. It is amusing,
if so serious a subject can be amusing, to see
how energetically the India Office resists any
application made by the War Office for any
charge beyond what the Indian authorities
regard as absolutely necessary.

As regards the Navy also, India is treated
with the utmost liberality. That she derives
a great advantage from our fleet cannot be
doubted. It saves her from a heavy expense,
which she must have otherwise incurred ; she
contributes to it, however, only the small sum
of 70,000 a year, in addition to which she
spends about half a million on steam-tugs,


inland vessels, pilotage allowances, port
charges, etc.

Our honest effort and desire has been to
govern India for the benefit of the people of
India. We may have made mistakes there,
as we have made mistakes at home, but these
have been the principles on which we have
governed India.

That they have benefited hitherto by our
rule cannot, I think, be denied. Dr. Hunter 1
tells us that in Orissa the Rajah's share was
60 per cent of the crop ; the mildest native
governments took 33 per cent ; we take only
from 3 to 7 per cent. No one can doubt that
the taxes of our Indian fellow-countrymen are
lighter, their lives and property more secure,
than if they had remained under native rulers ;
and it is at least certain that India does not
contribute a penny to our English revenue.
That we are loved in India cannot perhaps be
maintained, and would be probably too much
to expect. That our Government is respected
will hardly be denied.

That our rule is moreover not unpopular

1 Our Indian Empire.


was, I think, clearly shown during the mutiny.
Our countrymen behaved like heroes from the
highest to the lowest, but yet if our Govern-
ment had been characterised by avarice and
injustice if, on the whole, we had not been
trusted and respected by the population of
India we must then have been swept into
the sea. The bravery of our gallant troops,
the skill of their officers, would, under such
circumstances, have availed little. The peo-
ple of India did not, however, take any active
part against us, and their behaviour in that
crisis was a magnificent testimony to the
mode in which we have fulfilled our great

An Eminent Frenchman, M. Barthelemy
Saint Hilaire, late Foreign Secretary in M.
Thiers' Government, has borne generous tes-
timony to the beneficence and justice of our
rule in India, which, he says, " merite que
tous les amis de 1'humanite et de la civilisa-
tion en souhaitent le succes. Faire T education
politique et morale de deux cent cinquante
millions de nos semblables est une tache pro-
digieuse, qui, noblement commencee avec ce


siecle, exigera, pour 6tre entierement accom-
plie, une suite d'efforts dont on ne saurait
pre*ciser la duree." J We have to face, he
truly says, a difficult problem, but it is very
gratifying to be assured that we have the
" applaudisseraents sinceres de tous les esprits
Claire's et impartiaux." l

The opinion which other races have formed
of our rule is well shown by the history of
such cases as Hong-Kong and Singapore. In
the former, says Mr. Wood, " we find a small
barren island, which at the time of its cession
to Britain, was inhabited by a few handfuls
of fishermen, now crowded by tens of thou-
sands of Chinese, who have crossed from the
mainland because they know that under
British rule they would be free from oppres-
sive taxation, would be governed by just
laws, and would be able to carry on a thriv-
ing and profitable trade." Again, in the once
almost uninhabited island of Singapore, we
see a motley population attracted from China,
the Malay peninsula, and India, by a similar

1 Ulrule Anglaise.


Take, again, the case of Java. "During
the five years of the British possession," says
Heeren, " so wise and mild an administration
was exercised that after the restoration it
seems to have been difficult for the natives
and Europeans to accustom themselves again
to Dutch dominion. During the short time
it was in the possession of Britain, a clearer
light was shed over this remarkable island
than was done during the two whole centuries
of the dominion of Holland."

Passing to America, I may quote the strik-
ing testimony of an American bishop, Bishop
Whipple of Minnesota, who thus contrasts
the relations between the United States and
Great Britain with the Indians in their re-
spective territories :

" On one side of the line (he says) is a
nation that has spent $500,000,000 in Indian
wars ; a people that have not 100 miles be-
tween the Atlantic and the Pacific which has
not been the scene of an Indian massacre ;
a Government which has not passed twenty
years without an Indian war ; not an Indian
tribe to whom it has given Christian civilisa-


tion ; and which celebrates its Centenary by
another bloody Indian war. On the other
side of the line are the same Anglo-Saxon
race, and the same heathen. They have not
spent one dollar in Indian wars, and have
had no Indian massacres. Why ? In Can-
ada the Indian treaties call these men 'the
Indian subjects of her Majesty.' When civ-
ilisation approaches them they are placed on
ample reservations, receive aid in civilisation,
have personal right in property, are amena-
ble to law, and protected by law, have schools,
and Christian people send them the best

It is sometimes said most unjustly
that Ireland has been hardly dealt with. On
the contrary, she has a much larger represen-
tation than she is entitled to, either by popu-
lation or by her contribution to the Imperial
revenue ; her taxes are the same as ours,
except that we pay some that are not levied
in Ireland, namely, Land Tax, House Duty,
Railway Tax, Assessed Taxes amounting to
over 700,000 a year, and others; till this
year her farmers have paid a lower rate of


Income tax than ours, and Irish land is taken
at a lower figure for valuation than English ;
she has had subventions in aid of rates far
larger in proportion than England or Scot-
land ; and liberal grants of money as, for
instance, 8,000,000 at the time of the famine.
It is sometimes said that the duty on Spirits
presses unduly on Ireland. But while the
duty on Beer is almost entirely paid in Eng-
land, even as regards the duty on Spirits,
Great Britain pays 92 per cent, Ireland only
7 '90 per cent. I am sure it is the wish of
Englishmen and Scotchmen to treat Ireland
with justice and all reasonable liberality.

Peace, we know, hath her victories as well
as war, and if we turn to the history of hu-
man progress we have equal reason to be
proud of our forefathers.

The English tongue is rapidly spreading
and bids fair to become the general language
of the human race. Yet it is not so very
long ago that Bacon asked Dr. Playfair to
translate The Advancement of Learning from
English into Latin, because " the private-
ness of the language wherein it is written,


limits my readers," and its translation into
Latin " would give a second birth of that
work." 1

No country can boast a brighter, purer, or
nobler literature. Perhaps it may be said
that as an Englishman I am prejudiced. By
common consent, however, Shakespeare stands
out unique and pre-eminent in the literature
of the world. Chaucer, Bacon, Milton, Spen-
cer, and many others, to say nothing of more
recent authors, are also a glory to our nation.
Recently a leading Italian Journal instituted
a vote as to the best books in the world. A
large number, indeed several hundred, sub-
scribers gave their views, and out of the first
eight books one being the Bible no less
than four were English.

In the history of Invention and Discovery
the name of Watt will be always associated
with the Steam Engine, of Stephenson with
the Locomotive, Wheatstone with the Elec-
tric Telegraph, Arkwright with the Spinning
Machine, Hargreaves with the Jenny, Fox
Talbot with Photography.

1 Lord Playfair in University Extension Addresses.


In medicine the circulation of the blood
was discovered by Harvey, Vaccination by
Jenner, Anaesthetics were brought into use by
Simpson, and the antiseptic treatment in cases
of wounds and operations by Lister. In
Science we have many great names : Bacon
and Newton, Young and Darwin, Faraday,
Herschel, and many others.

I do not mention these facts as any credit
to us. They are a great honour to our
fathers, and we are proud of them, but they
impose on us a great responsibility.

Well then may we all join in Milton's
prayer : " Oh Thou who of Thy free grace
didst build up this Brittanick Empire to a
glorious and enviable height, with all her
daughter islands about her, stay us in this
felicitie." But we must not be content to
pray only for this great boon ; we must en-
deavour to deserve it. We must remember
that the deepest force is the stillest : that
"not by material, but by moral force, are
men and their actions governed." l

England has a right to expect that " every

i Carlyle.


man will do his duty." She says to us all,
" I have done all this for thee ; what hast
thou done for me ? "

Indeed, when we look back on the whole
history of the past, it is not, I think, too
much to say that our country has exercised
its great trust in a wise and liberal spirit, and
governed the Empire in a manner scarcely
less glorious than the victories by which that
Empire was won. Is it a dream to hope that
the time may come when the whole Eng-
lish-speaking people may form one great
nation !

I may perhaps be thought to be too partial
to, and too proud of, my own country. The
facts, however, speak for themselves. More-
over, as Maurice well says, " that man is most
just, on the whole, to every other nation, who
has the strongest feeling of attachment to his
own." The love of one's country elevates the
conception of citizenship, raises us above the
petty circle of personal and even family in-
terests, to the true width and splendour of
national life. The real imperial spirit is not
one of vainglory, but of just pride in the ex-


tension of our language and literature ; of our
people, and our commerce, on land and sea ;
and a deep sense of the great responsibility
thus imposed upon us.



WE are all part of the Government of the
country, and one of the most important of our
duties is to fit ourselves for that great respon-
sibility. This requires study and thought as
well as mere good- will. The very magnitude
and extent of our Empire is itself a source of
danger. We govern many races of men, some
of them with ideas and aspirations very
different from our own. Look at India.
The population is nearly ten times as large as
that of England, and is broken up into races
very different. in race and creed. The true
Hindoo belongs to the same great race of
men as we do : he speaks a language not only
'similar in origin and in structure, but even
retaining some of the same words. The word
"poor," with which so many Indian words



end, corresponds to our " borough," and is as
common a termination as with us. But the
Hindoos are only a section of the Indian
population ; they are more nearly allied to us
in blood than to the Dravidian races of the
South, or the Malayo-Chinese of the East,
though time and distance have created great
differences. They are in sharp religious con-
flict with the Mahomedans, who were, and
would probably be again if we left, the dom-
inant power.

But India, though perhaps the greatest, is
only one of our responsibilities. All over the
world we come in contact with other great
nations. Questions arise, and will continue
to arise, which require tact, moderation, and
forbearance on both parts. Our statesmen
must know when to give way, and where to
stand firm, and the people must know whom
to support.

The history of Man has shown us a succes-

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryJohn LubbockThe use of life; → online text (page 7 of 14)