25 JANUARY 1896, Page 21


AT the banquet given to Lord Lamington on his de- parture to assume the governorship of Queensland, Mr. Chamberlain made a speech which contained two points of great interest. In the first place, he accepted cheerfully the compliment of Mr. Foster, the Leader of the Canadian House of Commons, who had said by way of honouring the United Kingdom, that in the present crisis it stood " splendidly isolated." And in the second place, he showed that this " splendid isolation " had attracted, instead of repelling, the loyalty of the great Colonial dominions which still own a kind of voluntary fealty to the United Kingdom, and which encircle the earth almost as the sea itself encircles it. Considering that our ports are open to all the commerce of all the nations with a hospitality which they do not extend to us, it might seem perhaps, as Mr. Chamberlain suggested, a little strange that they should grudge us our prosperity so much more than we grudge theirs to them, were it not perhaps that the very cause of their grudging us our pro- sperity is that it is a much greater prosperity than theirs, precisely because we are so much more hospitable to their commercial enterprise than they are to ours. It is of the very nature of man for grudgings to multiply themselves. The more men act upon their grudgings, the more reason they find for fresh grudges. And the more severely they restrain and repress their grudgings, the less excuse they find even for the grudges which they had not suppressed. But the remarkable point about our " splendid isolation " is that while it certainly furnishes a rock of offence to those great Continental Powers which are always endeavouring to form enduring alliances against the chances of military adventure,—as an Anglo-German told us the other day in the Times, when he exhorted us to join the Triple Alliance,—this very dislike of our own United Kingdom to entangling alliances with the great military policies of the world, is one of the chief sources of the cordial sympathy which our Colonies feel with the mother-country. Very naturally their own interest, as relatively infant communities, is to keep out of these great political entanglements, and to pursue their com- mercial and agricultural enterprises with a single mind. They desire, too, to engage us on their behalf in case of any menace from other Powers, and they know perfectly well that the more free we remain from European alliances, the easier we shall find it to protect them against the menace of other European States. There can be no doubt, for instance, that in the present crisis, the menace of Germany has made us all the more popular with our great Australian Colonies, because Germany with her infant settlement in New Guinea is regarded as in some sense a rival by the Australian Colonies, while the menace launched against us by the American President has made us all the more popular with our great Canadian depen- dency, which also fears the ambition of the United States. No wonder the leader of the Canadian Parliament talks of our " splendid isolation" when he sees that that splendid isolation greatly increases both our power to give effectual help to Canada, in case of any quarrel with the United States, and also in all probability our inclination to give it. In inverse proportion to the number of our engagements with European Powers, will be in all probability our resources for helping the Colonies in any quarrel they might have with those Powers ; that is why the Colonies think our isolation " splendid," for in direct proportion to onr isolation is both our power to serve them, and our disposition to lean on them in case we ourselves get into a quarrel with other States. Now of course to the United Kingdom itself this " splendid isolation " has both a good and a bad side. We have always maintained that any constitutional organisa- tion of our Colonial Empire which would give our great self-governing Colonies a formal voice in our foreign policy.. and a virtual veto on our alliances, would never answer. It would be their highest interest to keep us free from any European alliance, and circumstances might easily be conceived in which it would be not only our true interest•,. but even our necessity, to form such an alliance. We could never cripple ourselves by surrendering the right to control our own foreign policy, as it might indeed under some circumstances prove fatal to our power even to defend our Colonial Empire if we did. But, none the less, it would be great folly to ignore the fact that our " splendid isolation " is, and rightly is, a. great advantage to our Colonial Empire, and that, as that Empire grows in magnitude and strength, it will become more and more our true policy to consult for their advantage, and give them in their turn substantial reasons to consult for our advantage. A small Kingdom with such a, ring of rapidly growing Colonial dependencies as we possess, would be mad if it did not do everything in its power, without drawing the bonds too tight, to secure the hearty goodwill of those great States, and to give them substantial proof of our goodwill in return. The Anglo-German who exhorted us all the other day to give up our " splendid isolation," and to enter into alliances which would win us the regard of mighty European States, quite forgot that by so doing we might well lose still more advantageous alliances, and,. moreover, alliances which are likely to gain greatly in importance with every half-century, as well as to be drawn- towards us in closer and closer ties. It is one thing to sub- ordinate constitutionally the policy of the United Kingdom to the influence of a number of Colonial dependencies at all points, and even at opposite points of the globe, and quite another, when we are considering the various ends for which- the United Kingdom should contend, to neglect a great number of powerful though infant States with a traditional leaning to our own policy, in order to conciliate one or two other States with no such traditional leaning at all.

Mr. Chamberlain also made a remark on a Gladstonian criticism which had been passed on his speech at the dinner in honour of the opening of the Transvaal railway,. which ought to be remembered by all Colonial politicians. He had in that speech observed that ours is a con- siderable Empire, and that any true view of its per- spective would take into account the greatness of its Colonies, and not pass them over as insignificant. And for this speech he was reproached by an Opposition journal, when the account came of the raid of Dr. Jame- son into the Transvaal, and told that that raid was entirely due to the spread-eagleism of his speech. There was no spread-eagleism in that speech. It contained merely a cordial expression of natural and praiseworthy pride in the magnitude of our Colonial Empire, and offered no incentive at all to aggression on friendly States, only because intended to increase it. But if this kind c f natural and praiseworthy pride in the Empire as it exists, is to be reprobated and condemned as an offence against other nations, how can we expect our Colonies to know how high a value we attach to them ? Are we to act as if we were ashamed of them, lest our neighbours and rivals should think that we are boasting of our power ? Do we resent it when the German Emperor magnifies his Empire, or the French President refers to the great and growing power of France ? Mr. Chamberlain reminded his hearers of a certain burgomaster who was asked to restrain some naughty boys who threw mud at the passers-by, where- upon the burgomaster put out a proclamation inviting the citizens to wear only their second-best clothes lest they should lead the naughty boys into the temptation to spoil the citizens' best clothes. If English politicians are to be asked to suppress all innocent pride in the greatness of their Colonies that they may not irritate lookers-on into casting mud at our Colonial Empire, they would act very much like the burgomaster in question, and only give the grudging observers of that Empire reason to believe. that we are either afraid to speak our minds, or else indifferent to our Colonial possessions, and destitute of all proper pride in them. Either alternative would certainly dissolve a good many of the ties between us and our Colonies, and give our enemies reason to think that we should resent feebly, if at all, any attack on them. That is a most pertinent criticism on those who think it is only decent modesty never to show any pride in our political position. If the Colonies are to be drawn towards us, they must be made to know and feel that we are drawn towards them. And the sedulous avoidance of any language which shows them this, adopted that we may not in any way stimulate the envy of our detractors, is just as mean- spirited as the burgomaster's request to the respectable citizens of his town not to wear their best clothes lest the little boys should feel it a provocation to the throwing of mud. Mr. Chamberlain understands how to cement together a great Colonial Empire far better than his English critics.