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tribes with which she sympathised, and some of the wrecks of
which I myself have seen.' 1

During this century the history of Canada has been princi-
pally the history of political consolidation. Lord Durham's
Report in 1837 gives the student of its annals a key to the
inner and social life of Upper and Lower Canada. The
rebellion of 1837 was a political upheaving the depth and
strength of which seem to have been imperfectly understood
at the time. Grievances existed and inequalities prevailed, of
which time has been the great rectifier. There were angry
discussions and heated recriminations on both sides. Papineau,
the leader of the rebellion, was regarded by some in the light
of a Hampden ; but others, and these Canadians, have called
him * impassioned, prejudiced, and imprudent.' 2

Lord Durham was the pacificator of Canada, and his Report
marks the beginning of a new epoch in the history of the
British colonies. Lord Norton in his Colonial Policy and
History has briefly stated the whole case. Ke writes : ' Lord
Durham described the general state of things as that of a
chronic collision between the executive and representative
bodies in all the North American colonies. " In each and
every province the representatives were in hostility to the
policy of the Government, and the administration of public
affairs was permanently in the hands of a Ministry not in
harmony with the popular branch of the Legislature." English
taxes were lavished as the means of quieting and demoralising
1 Travels in America, vol. ii. 2 History of Canada^ by Macmullen.

The Dominion of Canada 8 1

the spirit of the colonists. It was argued that the cessation of
such vexation would be the cessation of all colonial connec-
tion. Lord Durham alone affirmed the opposite and true
opinion, guided as he was by the enlightened views of Edward
Gibbon Wakefield and Charles Buller, that cessation from such
interference would be the starting-point from which a natural,
free, and vigorous attachment would spring up between the
colony and the Mother-country.' The whole of this question
belongs more especially to the history of the Canadian con-
stitution, and is a study in itself to which all readers of
colonial history can turn with advantage. Since the accession
of Queen Victoria there has been a gradual settling-down of
conflicting elements in Canada. The Confederation of 1867,
carried out by Lord Carnarvon, has seemed to complete politi-
cally the ' solidarity ' of the Dominion. The Canadian Pacific
Railway, one of the most daring and skilful of all mechanical
enterprises, has linked the scattered provinces together and
brought east and west together in one organic whole. The
railway is also an imperial trade-route of the utmost value, with
an outlook towards China and Japan on the east. In view of
a quickly expanding Pacific trade, a new line of steamships
from British Columbia to the British possessions in the Pacific
has been inaugurated, and there appears to be no limit to
their utility.

It is just possible that dangers from within may assail the
Dominion of Canada. For a long time past a few politicians,
of whom Professor Goldwin Smith is the best known, have
been openly advocating annexation to the United States, and
a political amalgamation with ' the Triumphant Democracy '
of the south. Canada would then cease to be part of the
British Empire, and would be absorbed as a northern addition
into the body of the United States. Putting aside sentiment,
it is not clear that Canada would be the gainer commercially
speaking. Her manufactures might be handicapped, her
industries fettered, and her territories overrun by a mixed mob
of emigrants. Her influence, if we take population as the


82 British Colonisation

basis, would be very small, and she would be dragged
ignominiously at the tail of a Republic some of whose
troubles are in the near future. It is by no means certain
that the Roman Catholic 'population of Lower Canada would,
in the event of their being an integral portion of the United
States, enjoy the same rights and privileges as they do at

There is no sign of any real and widespread desire on the
part of Canada to change her destiny. On the contrary,
Canadians are passionately loyal, and are by no means pre-
pared to follow the lead of political enthusiasts and vision-
aries. Commercially, Canada may draw closer to England ;
and how she may do this is the problem of the hour. Some
have advocated reciprocity treaties between Canada and the
Mother-country on the principle of give-and-take. It has been
argued that a slight duty on foreign corn and meat would send
up colonial industries, and especially Canadian agriculture, by
leaps and bounds. But England is hardly ready to make any
difference between foreign and colonial imports. The question
involves a the outset a reconsideration of her whole fiscal
policy. But might it not be possible, so others argue, for
Canada to adopt Free Trade ? This is the question on the
other side.

Quite recently, and during the numerous discussions on
Irish Home Rule, some politicians have quoted the example
of Canada as applicable to Ireland. If Canadians, they argue,
manage their own affairs under the various Provincial Govern-
ments, and in obedience to the Central Chamber at Ottawa,
why should not Irishmen manage their own affairs, and yet
remain loyal to the Central Chamber at Westminster, con-
tinuing true to the British connection ? Surely there can be
no real analogy here. In the first place, the machinery of
government in Canada is different from any machinery of
government yet devised, or even proposed, for Ireland. Canada
has achieved a Federal form of government, but England has
not arrived at this stage yet. Many Irishmen clamour for the

The Dominion of Canada 83

rights and position of an independent nation, and ask to be
dissociated from British rule altogether. It is the boast of
Canadians that they intend to be loyal .to the British flag.
Even supposing Canada wished to 'cut the painter' and
go adrift, the danger to England would be infinitesimal
compared to that which would follow upon the entire
separation of Ireland, an island lying close off our shores.
England can afford to give Canadians the control of their
own trade and police ; can she afford to give Irishmen the
same control ? The matter hardly admits of argument ; and,
whatever the form of any scheme of Irish Home Rule in the
future, it can hardly be modelled according to the Canadian

As Newfoundland has had a long-standing fisheries diffi-
culty with France, so Canada has had a disagreement with the
United States. By the treaty of 1783, which recognised the
independence of the United States, the American fisher-
men were given the ' liberty ' of fishing inshore through-
out British America. This ' liberty ' was of course essentially
different from a fishing right. By the law of nations, every
State owns the sea for three miles from the shore. This
liberty of fishing inside the creeks and bays of the Cana-
dian maritime provinces was terminated by the very fact of
the war of 1812-1814, and in October 1813 Nova Scotia
memorialised the British Government 'to guard against the
hateful articles of the treaty of 1783.' War terminates such
agreements, and the British navy swept the whole American

By the treaty of October 1818, the only fishery treaty now
in force, United States fishermen had liberty to take fish of
every kind along certain named portions of the North Ameri-
can coasts, without prejudice to Hudson's Bay rights ; and
they also had liberty to dry and cure fish on unsettled bays,
harbours, and creeks of Newfoundland and Labrador ; but as
soon as such places were settled they were to come to some
agreement with the inhabitants or proprietors. At the same

84 British Colonisation

time they renounced any liberty to fish inside the three-mile
limit previously enjoyed, in portions of the coast not specially
mentioned. On the other hand, they were allowed to enter
territorial waters for the sake of shelter, or repairing their
vessels, or obtaining wood or water but for no other purpose
whatever. It is to the strict interpretation of the 1818 con-
vention that Canadians wish to adhere.

The Reciprocity Treaty of June 1854 introduced a new
phase into the fisheries difficulty. The United States fisher-
men were given liberty to ' take fish of every kind, except shell
fish, on the sea coasts and shores and in the bays, harbours,
and creeks of Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince
Edward Island, and of the several islands thereunto adjacent,
without being restricted to any distance from the shore.' In
return for this privilege the Canadians had, amongst other
concessions, free trade in fish with the Republic. After the
abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty in 1866, Canada and the
United States reverted to their former position which was laid
down by the treaty of 1818.

The worst of a fisheries difficulty is that the Imperial
Government has to occupy a somewhat invidious position with
reference to her colonies. By the law of nations Newfound-
landers, for instance, claim all rights implied in the three-mile
limit. The Imperial Government supersedes the Provincial
Governments in what the colony deem to be a matter of
provincial concern. Such a dilemma tests the first principles
of our government to the utmost. 1

1 For facts and figures see Appendix XII.

The Dominion of Canada 85

References :

Parkman's Historical Works.

The History of Canada, by William Kingsford, vols. i.-iii. Triibner

and Co., 1886.

Bryce's Short History of the Canadian People ', 1891.
Bryce's Manitoba, its Growth and Present Condition, 1882.
Butler's Great Lone Land, 1872.
Butler's The Wild North Land, 1873.

Federal Government in Canada, by J. G. Bourinot, C.M.G., 1889.
Greswell's History of Newfoundland and the Canadian Dominion,

1890. Clarendon Press, Oxford. Under the auspices of the

Royal Colonial Institute.
Greswell's Geography of Newfoundland and the Canadian Dominion.

Under the auspices of the Royal Colonial Institute.
Parliamentary Procedure in Canada, byj. G. Bourinot, C.M.G., 1892.
The Proceedings of the Royal Colonial Institute.
See also Voyages of Samuel Hearne, Alexander Mackenzie,

George Vancouver, John Franklin, etc. etc.



CLOSELY connected with the West Indies in past times were
the numerous ports and factories of the West African coast
along the Bight of Benin. But the link that bound them
together was that of sordid and unhallowed gain, the point in
common an unholy traffic. The very thoroughfare of ocean
was known as ' a middle passage ' recalling one of the darkest
pages in our annals of colonisation. The manner and fashion
of the West African and West Indian trade in former days
was simple enough, and at one time highly remunerative. A
ship would sail from the port of Bristol, for instance, with a suit-
able cargo of British goods to the Oil Rivers or Sierra Leone, and
by traffic with slave-dealers convert this cargo into a ship-load
of slaves, who very often were huddled together like bales of
merchandise, without any regard for health and comfort.

Ultimately, what was left of the stifled, half-starved speci-
mens of black humanity was deposited at some such slave-
mart as Port Royal in Jamaica, or elsewhere. The slaves
would naturally be exchanged at the West Indian port for a
certain quantity of sugar, rum, molasses, indigo, coffee, tobacco,
or some other produce of negro labour equivalent in value ;
and so the ship would find its way back to an English port
after an unholy, but profitable, round. It is clear that in this
traffic, which began and terminated in the home port, the
West Indians were either the consignees or debtors of the
West African merchant. Under these circumstances the West
Indies were regarded as factories rather than as colonies in

The West African Settlements 87

the strict sense of the word. The shipowners of Great Britain
rapidly made their fortunes, and the great game of monopoly
went merrily on until emancipation came and Englishmen
repented in sackcloth and ashes. ' Quashie,' the quondam
miserable victim of our greed, has lived to revenge himself,
and lives a merry and irresponsible life in the lovely islands of
the West Indies ; nor does he wish to return to the shores of
West Africa.

The honours of West African exploration rest first of all
with the Portuguese. By a bull of Pope Eugene iv. an
exclusive grant was made in 1438 to the crown of Portugal of
all the countries that might be discovered between Cape Non,
the ultima Thule of early navigators, and the continent of
India. When two English captains, in 1481, were reported to
be equipping a trading expedition to Guinea, ambassadors
were sent from the court of Portugal to remonstrate with
Edward iv., and the enterprise was nipped in the bud. For
more than a hundred years Portuguese supremacy was unques-
tioned along the West African coasts, and it is strange that the
world should have gained so little by their occupation. Portu-
guese colonisation has always resembled the ' upas ' or poison-
ous tree of Java, that blights everything beneath its shadow.

English sailors, however, were not long to be debarred
from any part of the world where their efforts were likely to
meet with success. As they regarded not the Spanish mono-
poly of the West Indies and the New World, so they set at
naught the Portuguese monopoly of the west coast of Africa
and the East. The Reformation was letting loose forces
which could not be controlled. In 1554 three vessels under
Captain John Lok sailed for Guinea and brought back gold,
guinea-pepper, and elephants' tusks. Lok also brought back
some negro slaves. In 1588 Queen Elizabeth inaugurated an
epoch in West African commerce by granting a patent to a
company of merchants in Exeter to carry on a trade with
Senegal and Gambia. In 1618 King James gave his royal
sanction to a company, which was, however, soon dissolved.

88 British Colonisation

Thus the first steps were taken, and many sailors brought
back tales of strange races, Moorish kingdoms, sea-horses,
elephants, crocodiles, baboons, and, above all, of gold. The
wonderful travels and adventures of Andrew Battel, who sailed
from the Thames in 1589, and after incredible hardships,
hairbreadth escapes, captivities, and wanderings in Portuguese
Africa lived to return to England, settle in Essex, and tell his
story as thrilling, doubtless, as that of Othello into the
ear of the great Purchas, excited universal attention.

In 1662 a charter was granted to the Duke of York secur-
ing to him the commerce of the whole West African littoral,
extending from Cape Blanco in 20 N. lat. to the Cape of
Good Hope a truly royal concession, made, in all probability,
with few ideas of the interests, as well as the localities, in-
volved. This concession was returned into the King's hand by
the Duke, and this led to the creation, in 1672, of the Royal
African Company, with a capital of ,111,000. They built
forts at Dix Cove, Seconda, Commendah, Anamaboe, Accra,
and strengthened Cape Coast Castle. This company was
succeeded by the African Company of Merchants in 1750,
with liberty to form settlements between 20 N. and 20 S., and
this company lasted until 1821.

The eighteenth century, even more than the preceding one,
was the dark age of West African history. No more unprin-
cipled ruffians ever infested the shores of any country than
the captains of the slave-ships. After the slavers and pirates
came the ' palm-oil ruffians,' as they were called, consisting of
the masters and crews of the sailing-vessels that anchored in
one of the oil rivers and waited for their cargoes. It was a
terrible coast, where, to use Mr. H. H. Johnston's words,
' crime raged unchecked, and fever and disease, the sure and
sudden waiters upon crime, exacted their due.' There was no
effort made, missionary or otherwise, to ameliorate even the
fringe of the continent, the business of Europeans being con-
fined entirely to a base, unholy, and precarious littoral and
riverine trade.

The West African Settlements 89

A new and more wholesome view of West Africa was
inaugurated when Englishmen, with the dauntless energy of
their race, took up the task of West African exploration.
This task is second only in importance and interest to that of
Central African exploration. In the beginning, the object
was to discover the city of Timbuctoo, where, it was thought,
all the wealth of Africa was concentrated ; and as far back as
1618 a company was formed with the express object of
ascending the Gambia and making their way inland. Nothing,
however, came of this venture, as the Portuguese barred the
way, seizing the ship and massacring the crew.

It was due to the remarkable African Association, formed
in 1788, and guided chiefly by that enthusiastic traveller and
savant, Sir Joseph Banks, that the problem of West African
exploration, and especially the task of determining the features
of the Niger valley, was finally taken in hand. The roll of
explorers employed by this Association from time to time is
long and illustrious.

It may be well to state here very briefly what were the main
features of the problems presented to the geographers of North
and North Central Africa at the beginning of this century, and
indeed for some time after. If reference is made to any old
maps of the preceding century, such as those illustrating the
work of Abbe PreVost, a well-known compiler of voyages, in
1780, it will be seen that the coast-line of the Gulf of Guinea, or
St. Thomas, as it was called, was plentifully dotted with names
of stations, trading-ports, and rivers. But the interior was a great
blank. Even such an atlas as that of Pinkerton's, dated 1817,
does not enlighten the student much further, as it does not
show the course of the Niger further than a few degrees to the
east of the meridian of Greenwich. The problem of the Niger
watershed remained such, indeed, as it had been handed down
by the ancients. Geographers of the nineteenth century were
still at the mercy of the speculations of Ptolemy and Pliny.

There were certain preconceived ideas with regard to this
river which it cost a great deal to eradicate. It was taken

go British Colonisation

almost for certain that it flowed due east along immense
regions until it merged its waters with those of the Nile ; or,
it was argued, it might disappear altogether in Mid Africa,
evaporated by the fiery heat of the sun. Later on, it was
maintained that it turned its course south, and was identical
with the Zaire or Congo. There were also rumours of lakes in
the interior, about the existence of which the natives of Africa
itself seemed to be agreed. What were these lakes ? Where
was the outlet ? Were they part of the Niger and Nile river-
system ? Or, it was thought, there might be a great inland
sea somewhere in the Sudan.

There appeared to be three routes from which to assail these
geographical difficulties. First, there was the waterway of the
Gambia, along which an explorer could advance, cross the
intervening country to the Joliba or Niger, and, when once
launched upon these waters, it might be possible to descend
them until the sea was reached or the supposed junction with
the Nile was found. Secondly, there was the caravan-route
from Cairo and the East. It seemed probable that somewhere
along this route, either to the north or south, the great river might
itself be discovered flowing majestically eastwards. Indeed,
in their quick imaginations, cartographers had already laid
down its course on maps. Thirdly, there was the route from
Tripoli, along which it might chance that the Joliba or Niger
might be intersected, especially as it seemed, from glimpses
already gained, to flow to the north and east.

The ' ambages Nigri ' had as great a fascination as the
' ambages Nili.' Terrible indeed was the number of victims
the solution of the great Niger problem was destined to exact.
No Minotaur of ancient days was more hungry of human life.
It was by a strange irony indeed that the ancients placed
somewhere in North-West Africa or Libya the Gardens of the
Hesperides and pleasant resorts, whereas in reality travellers
found there nothing but lethal waters, and too often a Valley
of the Shadow of Death.

One of the first to lay down his life for the cause of West

The West African Settlements 91

African exploration was John Ledyard, an American, who had
already travelled in Irkutsk and Siberia. The object placed
before him by the African Association was to explore the
Sennaar westward 'in the latitude and supposed direction
of the Niger.' For this purpose he proceeded to Egypt and
ascended the Nile to Cairo, where he prepared to travel with
a caravan to Sennaar. Here, however, he was struck down by
sickness and died (1788). What need to recall the name and
exploits of the celebrated Mungo Park, whose name is a
'household word,' another intrepid emissary of the African
Association, who, going by way of the Gambia, returned home
victorious after his first essay to view the waters of the great
river (1795), and then perished in a second and more ambi-
tious attempt. Then came the German enthusiast Hornemann,
who endeavoured to reach the interior from the East, using
the great caravan-route across, the desert (1798). Next came
Lewis Burckhardt, a Swiss by birth, who sought to purloin the
secrets of African geography by stealth, turning Mohammedan
and going in disguise along the Cairo trade-route, the fore-
runner of such men as Bertolucci, Dr. Wallin, and our own
illustrious Sir Richard Burton. But he, too, fell by the way
(1817), and in his last letter wrote: 'I was starting in two
months' time with the caravan returning from Mecca and
going to Fezzan thence to Timbuctoo ; but it is otherwise

After the battle of Waterloo the British Government took
up the task of North African exploration, and from this
date there was a kind of official sanction given to a series of
most important enterprises, which were more successful than
the efforts of the African Association, and certainly procured
for England the chief honours of exploration, and in a certain
sense led up to her title-deeds to that vast area of West
African territory known as the ' Niger Protectorate.'

The motives that led to the first important expedition
(1816) setting out under these auspices were given in detail
by Mr. Barrow, Secretary of the Admiralty, who was already

92 British Colonisation

celebrated for his Travels in China and his well-known
Report on the Cape of Good Hope, after its first occupation by
the British in 1^95- The immediate and primary object of
the expedition was to determine, by tracing the Zaire or Congo
upwards from its mouth, whether the idea, strongly rooted in
Mungo Park's mind, that the Niger and Congo were one and
the same river was accurate or not.

It was suggested also by Sir Joseph Banks, still the ardent
promoter of African enterprise, and now in his seventy-third
year, that a steam-engine might be used to propel the vessel
against the rapid current of the Congo. In past times the
mouth of the Congo had been experienced to be almost
impossible to navigate.

Saving and excepting the expeditions of Ross and Parry to
the North Pole, there was no enterprise during the first quarter
of this century that so deeply riveted public and official atten-
tion as the great Niger problem. The British public were
inclined to agree with Mungo Park, who had written in his
memoir to Lord Camden that ' the Niger problem was in a
commercial point of view second only to the circumnavigation
of the Cape of Good Hope, and in a geographical sense the
greatest that remains to be made in the world.'

To assail this problem Captain Tuckey, a naval officer, was
first sent out, who had already served his apprenticeship by
exploring the coasts of Australia (1802) and making a survey
of Port Phillip, and with him went several distinguished men
Professor Smith, a botanist ; Mr. Lockhart, a Kew official ;
Mr. Cranch, a biologist ; and Mr. Tudor, a comparative
anatomist. The ship that took them out was the Dorothea
transport, which was employed afterwards on the Polar expedi-
tion. It is sad to think, however, that fever and death thinned
and decimated the ranks of this expedition also, and the pro-
blem of the Niger and Congo left as obscure as it was before.

Next came James and Bowdich, who in 1817-18 were lured

Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 8 of 31)