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Presented by 

. D. J. McDougal 




















First Edition July 1883. Reprinted October 1883, 1884 

1885, 1886, 1888, 1891, 1894 

Second Edition {Eversley Series) 1895. Reprinted 1897, 1899, 1900, 1902, 1904 
1906, 1907, 1909, 1911, 1914 


In preparing these lectures for the press I 
have heen much indebted to Professor Cowell, 
who was good enough to take an interest in 
that part of them which relates to India, and 
to Mr. Cunningham, the author of that most 
interesting book, The Growth of English Industry 
and Commerce. 







THE EMPIRE ...... 44 


























IT is a favourite maxim of mine that history, while it 
should be scientific in its method, should pursue a 
practical object. That is, it should not merely gratify 
the reader's curiosity about the past, but modify his 
view of the present and his forecast of the future. 
Now if this maxim be sound, the history of England 
ought to end with something that might be called a 
moral Some large conclusion ought to arise out of 
it ; it ought to exhibit the general tendency of English 
affairs in such a way as to set us thinking about the 
future and divining the destiny which is reserved for 
us. The more so because the part played by our 
country in the world certainly does not grow less 
prominent as history advances. Some countries, such 
as Holland and Sweden, might pardonably regard 
their history as in a manner wound up. They were 
once great, but the conditions of their greatness have 
passed away, and they now hold a secondary place. 
S> B 


Their interest in their own past is therefore either 
sentimental or purely scientific; the only practical 
lesson of their history is a lesson of resignation. 
But England has grown steadily greater and greater, 
absolutely at least if not always relatively. It is far 
greater now than it was in the eighteenth century ; 
it was far greater in the eighteenth century than in 
the seventeenth, far greater in the seventeenth than 
in the sixteenth. The prodigious greatness to which 
it has attained makes the question of its future 
infinitely important and at the same time most 
anxious, because it is evident that the great colonial 
extension of our state exposes it to new dangers, from 
which in its ancient insular insignificance it was 

The interest of English history ought therefore to 
deepen steadily to the close, and, since the future 
grows out of the past, the history of the past of 
England ought to give rise to a prophecy concerning 
her future. Yet our popular historians scarcely seem 
to think so. Does not Aristotle say that a drama 
ends, but an epic poem only leaves off? English 
history, as it is popularly related, not only has no 
distinct end, but leaves off in such a gradual manner, 
growing feebler and feebler, duller and duller, towards 
the close, that one might suppose that England, instead 
of steadily gaining in strength, had been for a century 
or two dying of mere old age. Can this be right 1 
Ought the stream to be allowed thus to lose itself 
and evaporate in the midst of a sandy desert ? The 
question brings to mind those lines of Wordsworth : 


It is not to be thought of that the flood 
Of British freedom, which to the open sea 
Of the world's praise, from dark antiquity 
Hath flowed " with pomp of waters unwithstood," 
Roused though it be full often to a mood 
Which spurns the check of salutary bands, 
That this most famous stream in bogs and sands 
Should perish, and to evil and to good 
Be lost for ever 

Well ! this sad fate, which is " not to be thought of," 
is just what befalls, if not the stream itself of British 
freedom, yet the reflection of it in our popular 

Now suppose we wish to remedy this evil, how 
shall we proceed? Here is no bad question for 
historical students at the opening of an academic 
year, the opening perhaps to some of their academic 
course. You are asked to think over English history 
as a whole and consider if you cannot find some 
meaning, some method in it, if you cannot state some 
conclusion to which it leads. Hitherto perhaps you 
have learned names and dates, lists of kings, lists of 
battles and wars. The time comes now when you 
are to ask yourselves, To what end? For what 
practical purpose are these facts collected and 
committed to memory? If they lead to no great 
truths having at the same time scientific generality 
and momentous practical bearings, then history is 
but an amusement and will scarcely hold its own 
in the conflict of studies. 

No one can long study history without being 
haunted by the idea of development, of progress. 


We move onward, both each of us and all of us 
together. England is not now what it was under the 
Stuarts or the Tudors, and in these last centuries at 
least there is much to favour the view that the 
movement is progressive, that it is toward something 
better. But how shall we define this movement, and 
how shall we measure it 1 If we are to study history 
in that rational spirit, with that definite object which 
I have recommended, we must fix our minds on this 
question and arrive at some solution of it. We 
must not be content with those vague flourishes which 
the old school of historians, who according to my view 
lost themselves in mere narrative, used to add for 
form's sake before winding-up. 

Those vague flourishes usually consisted in some 
reference to what was called the advance of civilisation. 
No definition of civilisation was given ; it was spoken 
of in metaphorical language as a light, a day 
gradually advancing through its twilight and its dawn 
towards its noon; it was contrasted with a remote 
ill-defined period, called the Dark Ages. Whether it 
would always go on brightening, or whether, like the 
physical day, it would pass again into afternoon and 
evening, or whether it would come to an end by a 
sudden eclipse, as the light of civilisation in the 
ancient world might appear to have done, all this was 
left in the obscurity convenient to a theory which 
was not serious, and which only existed for the 
purpose of rhetorical ornament. 

It is a very fair sample of bad philosophising, this 
theory of civilisation. You have to explain a large 


mass of phenomena, about which you do not even 
know that they are of the same kind but they 
happen to come into view at the same time ; what 
do you do but fling over the whole mass a word, 
which holds them together like a net ? You carefully 
avoid defining this word, but in speaking of it you 
use metaphors which imply that it denotes a living 
force of unknown, unlimited properties, so that a 
mere reference to it is enough to explain the most 
wonderful, the most dissimilar effects. It was used 
to explain a number of phenomena which had no 
further apparent connection with each other than that 
they happened often to appear together in history ; 
sometimes the softening of manners, sometimes 
mechanical inventions, sometimes religious toleration, 
sometimes the appearance of great poets and artists, 
sometimes scientific discoveries, sometimes constitu- 
tional liberty. It was assumed, though it was never 
proved, that all these things belonged together and 
had a hidden cause, which was the working of the 
spirit of civilisation. 

We might no doubt take this theory in hand, and 
give it a more coherent appearance. We might start 
with the one principle of freedom of thought, and 
trace all the consequences that will follow from that. 
Scientific discoveries and mechanical inventions may 
flow from it, if certain other conditions are present ; 
such discoveries and inventions coming into general 
use will change the appearance of human life, give it 
a complicated, modern aspect ; this change then we 
might call the advance of civilisation. But political 


liberty has no connection with all this. There was 

liberty at Athens before Plato and Aristotle, but 
afterwards it died out ; liberty at Rome when thought 
was rude and ignorant, but servitude after it became 
enlightened. And poetical genius has nothing to 
do with it, for poetry declined at Athens just as 
philosophy began, and there was a Dante in Italy 
before the Renaissance, but no Dante after it. 

If we analyse this vague sum-total which we call 
civilisation, we shall find that a large part of it is 
what might be expected from the name, that is, the 
result of the union of men in civil communities or 
states, but that another part is only indirectly con- 
nected with this and is more immediately due to 
other causes. The progress of science, for example, 
might be held to be the principal factor in civilisation, 
yet, as I have just pointed out, it by no means varies 
regularly with civil well-being, though for the most 
part it requires a certain modicum of civil well-being. 
That part of the human lot " which laws or kings can 
cause or cure " is strictly limited. Now history may 
assume a larger or a narrower function. It may 
investigate all the causes of human well-being alike ; 
on the other hand it may attach itself to the civil 
community and to the part of human well-being 
which depends on that. Now by a kind of un- 
conscious tradition the latter course has more usually 
been taken. JJun over the famous histories that have 
been written ; you will see that the writers have 
always had in view, more or less consciously, states 
and governments, their internal development, their 


mutual dealings. It may be quite true that affairs 
of this kind are not always the most important of 
human affairs. In the period recorded by Thucydides 
the most permanently important events may have 
been the philosophical career of Socrates and the 
artistic career of Phidias, yet Thucydides has nothing 
to say of either, while he enlarges upon wars and 
intrigues which now seem petty. This is not the 
effect of any narrowness of view. Thucydides is 
alive to the unique glory of the city he describes ; 
how else could he have written <f)i\oKa\ov/jLv ytter' 
eureXewK? KOI <iXo<ro<oO//.ez/ dvev /taXa/aa? ? nay, 
so far as that glory was the result of political causes, 
he is ready to discuss it, as that very passage shows. 
It is with purpose and deliberation that he restricts 
himself. The truth is that investigation makes pro- 
gress by dividing and subdividing the field. If you 
discuss everything at once, you certainly get the 
advantage of a splendid variety of topics; but you 
do not make progress ; if you would make progress, 
you must concentrate your attention upon one set 
of phenomena at a time. It seems to me advisable 
to keep history still within the old lines, and to 
treat separately the important subjects which were 
omitted in that scheme. I consider therefore that 
history has to do with the State, that it investigates 
the growth and changes of a certain corporate society, 
which acts through certain functionaries and certain 
assemblies. By the nature of the State every person 
who lives in a certain territory is usually a member 
of it, but history is not concerned with individuals 


except in their capacity of members of a State. 
That a man in England makes a scientific discovery 
or paints a picture, is not in itself an event in the 
history of England. Individuals are important in 
history in proportion, not to their intrinsic merit, 
but to their relation to the State. Socrates was a 
much greater man than Cleon, but Cleon has a much 
greater space in Thucydides. Newton was a greater 
man than Harley, yet it is Harley, not Newton, who 
fixes the attention of the historian of the reign of 
Queen Anne. 

After this explanation you will see that the 
question I raised, What is the general drift or goal 
of English history? is much more definite than it 
might at first sight appear. I am not thinking of any 
general progress that the human race everywhere 
alike, and therefore also in England, may chance to 
be making, nor even necessarily of any progress 
peculiar to England. By England I mean solely 
the state or political community which has its seat in 
England. Thus strictly limited, the question may 
seem to you perhaps a good deal less interesting ; 
however that may be, it certainly becomes much more 

The English State then, in what direction and 
towards what goal has that been advancing ? The 
words which jump to our lips in answer are Liberty, 
Democracy ! They are words which want a great 
deal of defining. Liberty has of course been a 
leading characteristic of England as compared with 
continental countries, but in the main liberty is not 


so much an end to which we have been tending as 
a possession which we have long enjoyed. The 
struggles of the seventeenth century secured it 
even if they did not first acquire it for us. In 
later times there has been a movement towards 
something which is often called liberty, but not so 
correctly. We may, if we like, call it democracy ; 
and I suppose the current opinion is that if any large 
tendency is discernible in the more recent part of 
English history, it is this tendency, by which first 
the middle class and then gradually the lower 
classes have been admitted to a share of influence in 
public affairs. 

Discernible enough no doubt this tendency is, at 
least in the nineteenth century, for in the eighteenth 
century only the first beginnings of it can be traced. 
It strikes our attention most, because it has made for 
a long time past the staple of political talk and 
controversy. But history ought to look at things 
from a greater distance and more comprehensively. 
If we stand aloof a little and follow with our eyes 
the progress of the English State, the great governed 
society of English people, in recent centuries, we 
shall be much more struck by another change, which 
is not only far greater but even more conspicuous, 
though it has always been less discussed, partly 
because it proceeded more gradually, partly because 
it excited less opposition. I mean the simple obvious 
fact of the extension of the English name into other 
countries of the globe, the foundation of Greater 


There is something very characteristic in the 
indifference which we show towards this mighty 
phenomenon of the diffusion of our race and the 
expansion of our state. We seem, as it were, to have 
conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of 
absence of mind. While we were doing it, that is 
in the eighteenth century, we did not allow it to 
affect our imaginations or in any degree to change our 
ways of thinking ; nor have we even now ceased to 
think of ourselves as simply a race inhabiting an 
island off the northern coast of the Continent of 
t Europe. We constantly betray by our modes of 
I speech that we do not reckon our colonies as really 
j belonging to us; thus if we are asked what the 
I English population is, it does not occur to us to 
I reckon -in the population of Canada and Australia. 
' This fixed way of thinking has influenced our 
historians. It causes them, I think, to miss the true 
point of view in describing the eighteenth century. 
They make too much of the mere parliamentary 
wrangle and the agitations about liberty, in all which 
matters the eighteenth century of England was but a 
pale reflection of the seventeenth. They do not 
perceive that in 'that century the history of England 
is not in England but in America and Asia. In like 
manner I believe that when we look at the present 
state of affairs, and still more at the future, we ought 
to beware of putting England alone in the fore- 
ground and suffering what we call the English 
possessions to escape our view in the background 
of the picture. 


Let me describe with some exactness the change 
that has taken place. In the last years of Queen 
Elizabeth England had absolutely no possessions 
outside Europe, for all schemes of settlement, from 
that of Hore in Henry VIII. 's reign to those of 
Gilbert and Ealeigh, had failed alike. Great Britain 
did not yet exist ; Scotland was a separate kingdom, 
and in Ireland the English were but a colony in the 
midst of an alien population still in the tribal stage. 
With the accession of the Stuart family commenced 
at the same time two processes, one of which 
was brought to completion under the last Stuart, 
Queen Anne, while the other has continued without 
interruption ever since. Of these the first is the 
internal union of the three kingdoms, which, though 
technically it was not completed till much later, may 
be said to be substantially the work of the seven- 
teenth century and the Stuart dynasty. The second 
was the creation of a still larger Britain compre- 
hending vast possessions beyond the sea. This 
process began with the first Charter given to Virginia 
in 1606. It made a great advance in the seventeenth 
century; but not till the eighteenth did Greater 
Britain in its gigantic dimensions and with its vast 
politics first stand clearly before the world. Let us 
consider what this Greater Britain at the present day 
precisely is. 

Excluding certain small possessions, which are 
chiefly of the nature of naval or military stations, 
it consists besides the United Kingdom of four great 
groups of territory, inhabited either chiefly or to a 


large extent by Englishmen and subject to the Crown, 
and a fifth great territory also subject to the Crown 
and ruled by English officials, but inhabited by a 
completely foreign race. The first four are the 
Dominion of Canada, the West Indian Islands, among 
which I include some territories on the continent 
of Central and Southern America, the mass of South 
African possessions of which Cape Colony is the most 
considerable, and fourthly the Australian group, to 
which, simply for convenience, I must here add New 
Zealand. The dependency is India. 

Now what is the extent and value of these 
possessions? First let us look at their population, 
which, the territory being as yet newly settled, is in 
many cases thin. The Dominion of Canada with 
Newfoundland had in 1881 a population of rather 
more than four millions and a half that is, about 
equal to the population of Sweden ; the West Indian 
group rather more than a million and a half, about 
equal to the population at the same time of Greece ; 
the South African group about a million and three 
quarters, but of these much less than a half are of 
European blood ; the Australian group about three 
millions, rather more than the population of Swit- 
zerland. This makes a total of ten millions and 
three quarters, or about ten millions of English 
subjects of European and mainly English blood 
outside the British Islands. 

The population of the great dependency India was 
nearly a hundred and ninety-eight millions, and the 
native states in India which look up to England as 


the paramount Power had about fifty-seven millions 
in addition. The total makes a population roughly 
equal to that of all Europe excluding Russia. 

But of course it strikes us at once that this J 
enormous Indian population does not make part of 1 
Greater Britain in the same sense as those ten | 
millions of Englishmen who live outside of the / 
British Islands. The latter are of our own blood, 
and are therefore united with us by the strongest tie. 
The former are of alien race and religion, and are 
bound to us only by the tie of conquest. It may 
be fairly questioned whether the possession of India 
does or ever can increase our power or our security, 
while there is no doubt that it vastly increases our 
dangers and responsibilities. Our colonial Empire 
stands on quite a different footing; it has some of the 
fundamental conditions of stability. There are in 
general three ties by which states are held together, 
community of race, community of religion, community 
of interest. By the first two our colonies are 
evidently bound to us, and this fact by itself makes 
the connection strong. It will grow indissolubly firm 
if we come to recognise also that interest bids us 
maintain the connection, and this conviction seems to 
gain ground. When we inquire then into the 
Greater Britain of the future we ought to think 
much more of our Colonial than of our Indian 

This is an important consideration when we come 
to estimate the Empire not by population but by 
territorial area. Ten millions of Englishmen beyond 


the sea, this is something; but it is absolutely 
nothing compared with what will ultimately, nay 
with what will speedily, be seen. For those millions 
are scattered over an enormous area, which fills up 
with a rapidity quite unlike the increase of population 
in England. That you may measure the importance 
of this consideration, I give you one fact. The 
density of population in Great Britain is two hundred 
w and ninety-one to the square mile, in Canada it is not 
much more than one to the square mile. Suppose 
for a moment the Dominion of Canada peopled as 
fully as Great Britain, its population would actually 
be more than a thousand millions. That state of 
things is no doubt very remote, but an immense 
increase is not remote. In not much more than half 
a century the Englishmen beyond the sea supposing 
the Empire to hold together will be equal in number 
to the Englishmen at home, and the total will be 
much more than a hundred millions. 

These figures may perhaps strike you as rather 
overwhelming than interesting. You may make it 
a question whether we ought to be glad of this vast 
increase of our race, whether it would not be better 
for us to advance morally and intellectually than in 
mere population and possessions, whether the great 
things have not for the most part been done by the 
small nations, and so on. But I do not quote these 
figures in order to gratify our national pride. I 
leave it an open question whether our increase is 
matter for exultation or for regret. It is not yet 
time to consider that. What is clear in the mean- 


time is the immense importance of this increase. 
Good or bad, it is evidently the great fact of modern 
English history. And it would be the greatest 
mistake to imagine that it is a merely material fact, 
or that it carries no moral and intellectual con- 
sequences. People cannot change their abodes, pass 
from an island to a continent, from the 50th degree 
of north latitude to the tropics or the Southern 
Hemisphere, from an ancient community to a new 
colony, from vast manufacturing cities to sugar 
plantations, or to lonely sheep-walks in countries 
where aboriginal savage tribes still wander, without 
changing their ideas and habits and ways of thinking, 
nay without somewhat modifying in the course of 
a few generations their physical type. We know 
already that the Canadian and the Victorian are not 
quite like the Englishman ; do we suppose then that 
in the next century, if the colonial population has 
become as numerous as that of the mother-country, 
assuming that the connection has been maintained and 
has become closer, England itself will not be very 
much modified and transformed ? Whether good or 
bad then, the growth of Greater Britain is an event of 
enormous magnitude. 

Evidently as regards the future it is the greatest 
event. But an event may be very great, and yet be 
so simple that there is not much to be said about it, 
that it has scarcely any history. It is thus that the 
great English Exodus is commonly regarded, as if it 
had happened in the most simple, inevitable manner, 
as if it were merely the unopposed occupation of 


empty countries by the nation which happened to 
have the greatest surplus population and the greatest 
maritime power. I shall show this to be a great 
mistake. I shall show that this Exodus makes a 
most ample and a most full and interesting chapter 
in English history. I shall venture to assert that 
during the eighteenth century it determines the 
whole course of affairs, that the main struggle of 
England from the time of Louis XIV. to the time of 
Napoleon was for the possession of the New World, 
and that it is for want of perceiving this that most 
of us find that century of English history unin- 

The great central fact in this chapter of history is 
that we have had at different times two such Empires. 
So decided is the drift of our destiny towards the 
occupation of the New World that after we had 
created one Empire and lost it, a second grew up 
almost in our own despite. The figures I gave you 
refer exclusively to our second Empire, to that 
which we still possess. When I spoke of the ten 
millions of English subjects who live beyond the sea, 
I did not pause to mention that a hundred years ago 
we had another set of colonies which had already a 
population of three millions, that these colonies broke 
off from us and formed a federal state, of which the 
population has in a century multiplied more than 
sixteenf old, and is now equal to that of the mother 
country and its colonies taken together. It is an 
event of prodigious magnitude, not only that this 
Empire should have been lost to us, but that a new 


state, English in race and character, should have 
sprung up, and that this state should have grown in 
a century to be greater in population than every 
European state except Russia. But the loss we 
suffered in the secession of the American colonies has 
left in the English mind a doubt, a misgiving, which 
affects our whole forecast of the future of England. 

For if this English Exodus has been the greatest 
English event of the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries, the greatest English question of the future 
must be, what is to become of our second Empire, and 
whether or no it may be expected to go the way of 
the first. In the solution of this question lies that ' 
moral which I said ought to result from the study of 
English history. 

It is an old saying, to which Jurgot gave 
utterance a quarter of a century before the De- 
claration of Independence, " Colonies are like fruits 
which cling to the tree only till they ripen." He 
added, " As soon as America can take care of herself, 
she will do what Carthage did." What wonder that 
when this prediction was so signally fulfilled, the 
proposition from which it had been deduced rose, 
especially in the minds of the English, to the rank of 
a demonstrated principle ! This no doubt is the 
reason why we have regarded the growth of a second 
Empire with very little interest or satisfaction. 
"What matters," we have said, "its vastness or its 
rapid growth ? It does not grow for us." And to 
the notion that we cannot keep it we have added the 
notion that we need not wish to keep it, because, 


with that curious kind of optimistic fatalism to 
which historians are liable, the historians of our 
American war have generally felt bound to make out 
that the loss of our colonies was not only inevitable, 
but was even a fortunate thing for us. 

Whether these views are sound, I do not inquire 
now. I merely point out that two alternatives are 
before us, and that the question, incomparably the 
greatest question which we can discuss, refers to the 
choice between them. The four groups of colonies 
may become four independent states, and in that case 
two of them, the Dominion of Canada and the West 
Indian group, will have to consider the question 
whether admission into the United States will not be 
better for them than independence. In any case the 
English name and English institutions will have a 
vast predominance in the New World, and the 
separation may be so managed that the mother- 
country may continue always to be regarded with 
friendly feelings. Such a separation would leave 
England on the same level as the states nearest to us 
on the Continent, populous, but less so than Germany 
and scarcely equal to France. But two states, Russia 
and the United States, would be on an altogether 
higher scale of magnitude, Russia having at once, 
and the United States perhaps before very long, twice 
our population. Our trade too would be exposed to 
wholly new risks. 

The other alternative is, that England may prove 
able to do what the United States does so easily, 
that is, hold together in a federal union countries 


very remote from each other. In that case England 
will take rank with Kussia and the United States in 
the first rank of state, measured by population and 
area, and in a higher rank than the states of the 
Continent. We ought by no means to take for 
granted that this is desirable. Bigness is not 
necessarily greatness ; if by remaining in the second 
rank of magnitude we can hold the first rank morally 
and intellectually, let us sacrifice mere material 
magnitude. But though we must not prejudge the 
question whether we ought to retain our Empire, we 
may fairly assume that it is desirable after due 
consideration to judge it. 

With a view to forming such a judgment, I 
propose in these lectures to examine historically the 
tendency to expansion which England has so long 
displayed. We shall learn to think of it more 
seriously if we discover it to be profound, persistent, 
necessary to the national life, and more hopefully if 
we can satisfy ourselves that the secession of our 
first colonies was not a mere normal result of ex- 
pansion, like the bursting of a bubble, but the result 
of temporary conditions, removable and which have 
been removed. 



IT was in the eighteenth century that the expansion 
of England advanced most rapidly. If therefore we 
would understand the nature of that expansion, and 
measure how much it absorbed of the energy and 
vitality of the nation, we cannot do better than 
consult the records of the eighteenth century. Those 
records too, if I mistake not, will acquire new 
interest from being regarded from this point of 

I constantly remark, both in our popular histories 
and in occasional allusions to the eighteenth century, 
what a faint and confused impression that period has 
left upon the national memory. In a great part of 
it we see nothing but stagnation. The wars seem to 
lead to nothing, and we do not perceive the working 
of any new political ideas. That time seems to have 
created little, so that we can only think of it as pros- 
perous, but not as memorable. Those dim figures 
George I. and George II., the long tame administra- 


tions of Walpole and Pelham, the commercial war 
with Spain, the battles of Dettingen and Fontenoy, 
the foolish Prime Minister Newcastle, the dull brawls 
of the Wilkes period, the miserable American war ; 
everywhere alike we seem to remark a want of great- 
ness, a distressing commonness and flatness in men 
and in affairs. But what we chiefly miss is unity. 
In France the corresponding period has just as little 
greatness, but it has unity ; it is intelligible ; we can 
describe it in one word as the age of the approach of 
the Eevolution. But what is the English eighteenth 
century, and what has come of it? What was ap- 
proaching then ? 

But do we take the right way to discover the unity 
of a historical period ? 

We have an unfortunate habit of distributing 
historical affairs under reigns. We do this mechanic- 
ally, as it were, even in periods where we recognise, 
nay, where we exaggerate, the insignificance of the 
monarch. The first Georges were, in my opinion, by 
no means so insignificant as is often supposed, but 
even the most influential sovereign has seldom a 
right to give his name to an age. Much miscon- 
ception, for example, has arisen out of the expression, 
Age of Louis XIV. The first step then in arranging 
and dividing any period of English history is to get 
rid of such useless headings as Eeign of Queen Anne, 
Reign of George L, Eeign of George II. In place of 
these we must study to put divisions founded upon 
some real stage of progress in the national life. We 
must look onward not from king to king, but from 


great event to great event. And in order to do this 
we must estimate events, measure their greatness ; a 
thing which cannot be done without considering them 
and analysing them closely. When with respect to 
any event we have satisfied ourselves that it deserves 
to rank among the leading events of the national 
history, the next step is to trace the causes by which 
it was produced. In this way each event takes the 
character of a development, and each development 
of this kind furnishes a chapter to the national 
history, a chapter which will get its name from the 

For a plain example of the principle take the reign 
of George III. What can be more absurd than to 
treat this long period of sixty years as if it had any 
historical unity, simply because one man was king 
during the whole of itl What then are we to 
substitute for the king as a principle of division 1 
Evidently great events. One part of the reign will 
make a chapter by itself as the period of the loss of 
America, another as that of the struggle with the 
French Eevolution. 

But in a national history there are large as well as 
smaller divisions. Besides chapters there are, as it 
were, books or parts. This is because the great 
events, when examined closely, are seen to be con- 
nected with each other; those which are chrono- 
logically nearest to each other are seen to be similar ; 
they fall into groups, each of which may be regarded 
as a single complex event, and the complex events 
give their names to the parts, as the simpler events 


give their names to the separate chapters, of the 

In some periods of history this process is so easy 
that we perform it almost unconsciously. The events 
bear their significance written on their face, and the 
connection of events is also obvious. When you read 
the reign of Louis XV. of France, you feel without 
waiting to reason that you are reading of the fall of 
the French Monarchy. But in other parts of history 
the clue is less easy to find, and it is here that we feel 
that embarrassment and want of interest which, as I 
have said, Englishmen are conscious of when they look 
back upon their eighteenth century. In most cases 
of this kind the fault is in the reader ; he would be 
interested in the period if he had the clue to it, and 
he would find the clue if he sought it deliberately. 

We are to look then at the great events of the 
eighteenth century, examine each to see its precise 
significance, and compare them together with a view 
to discovering any general tendency there may be. 
I speak roughly of course when I say the eighteenth 
century. More precisely I mean the period which 
begins with the Eevolution of 1688 and ends with 
the peace of 1815. Now what are the great events 
during this period'? There are no revolutions. In 
the way of internal disturbance all that we find is 
two abortive Jacobite insurrections in 1715 and 
1745. There is a change of dynasty, and one of an 
unusual kind, but it is accomplished peacefully by Act 
of Parliament. The great events are all of one sort, 
they are foreign wars. 


These wars are on a much larger scale than any 
which England had waged before, since the Hundred 
Tears' War of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 
They are also of a more formal business-like kind 
than earlier wars. For England has now for the first 
time a standing army and navy. The great English 
navy first took definite shape in the wars of the 
Commonwealth, and the English Army, founded on 
the Mutiny Bill, dates from the reign of William III. 
Between the Revolution and the Battle of Waterloo 
it may be reckoned that we waged seven great wars, 
of which the shortest lasted seven years and the 
longest about twelve. Out of a hundred and twenty- 
six years, sixty-four years, or more than half, were 
spent in war. 

That these wars were on a greater scale than any 
which had preceded, may be estimated by the burden 
which they laid upon the country. Before this 
period England had of course often been at war ; still 
at the commencement of it England had no consider- 
able debt her debt was toss than a million but at 
the end of this period, in 1817, her debt amounted 
to eight hundred and forty millions. And you are 
to beware of taking even this large amount as 
measuring the expensiveness of the wars. Eight 
hundred and forty millions was not the cost of the 
wars; it was only that part of the cost which the 
nation could not meet at once; but an enormous 
amount had been paid at once. And yet this debt 
alone, contracted in a period of a hundred and 
twenty years, is equivalent to seven millions a year 


spent on war during the whole time, while for a good 
part of the eighteenth century the whole annual cost 
of government did not exceed seven millions. 

This series of great wars is evidently the 
characteristic feature of the period, for not only does 
it begin with this period, but also appears to end 
with it. Since 1815 we have had local wars in India 
and some of our colonies, but of struggles against 
great European Powers, such as this period saw seven 
times, we have only seen one in a period more than 
half as long, and it lasted but two years. 

Let us pass these wars in review. There was first 
the European war in which England was involved 
by the Revolution of 1688. It is pretty well 
remembered, since the story of it has been told by 
Macaulay. It lasted eight years, from 1689 to 1697. 
There was then the great war called from the 
Spanish Succession, which we shall always remember, 
because it was the war of Maryborough's victories. 
It lasted eleven years, from 1702 to 1713. The 
next great war has now passed almost entirely out of 
memory, not having brought to light any very great 
commander, nor achieved any definite result. But 
we have all heard speak of the fable of Jenkins' ears, 
and we have heard of the battles of Dettingen and 
Fontenoy, though perhaps few of us could give a 
rational account either of the reason for fighting them 
or of the result that came of them. And yet this 
war too lasted nine years, from 1739 to 1748. Next 
comes the Seven Years' War, in which we have not 
forgotten the victories of Frederick. In the English 


part of it we all remember one grand incident, the 
battle of the Heights of Abraham, the death of 
Wolfe, and the conquest of Canada. And yet in the 
case of this war also it may be observed how much 
the eighteenth century has faded out of our imagin- 
ations. We have quite forgotten that that victory 
was one of a long series, which to contemporaries 
seemed fabulous, so that the nation came out of the 
struggle intoxicated with glory, and England stood 
upon a pinnacle of greatness which she had never 
reached before. We have forgotten how, through all 
that remained of the eighteenth century, the nation 
looked back upon those two or three splendid years 1 
as upon a happiness that could never return, and 
how long it continued to be the unique boast of the 

That Chatham's language was his mother-tongue 
And Wolfe's great heart compatriot with his own. 

This is the fourth war. It is in sharp contrast with 
the fifth, which we have tacitly agreed to mention as 
seldom as we can. What we call the American war, 
which from the first outbreak of hostilities to the 
Peace of Paris lasted eight years, from 1775 to 1783, 

1 Mark how the unenthusiastic Walpole writes of them : 
" Intrigues of the Cabinet or of Parliament scarcely existed at that 
period. All men were, or seemed to be, transported with the 
success of their country, and content with an Administration which 
outwent their warmest wishes or made their jealousy ashamed to 
show itself. One episode indeed there was, in which less heroic 
affections were concerned ... it will diversify the story, and by 
the intermixture of human passions serve to convince posterity 
that such a display of immortal actions as illustrate the following 
pages is not the exhibition of a fabulous age." 


was indeed ignominious enough in America, but in 
its latter part it spread into a grand naval war, in 
which England stood at bay against almost all the 
world, and in this, through the victories of Rodney, 
we came off with some credit. The sixth and seventh 
are the two great wars with Revolutionary France, 
which we are not likely to forget, though we ought 
to keep them more separate in our minds than we do. 
The first lasted nine years from 1793 to 1802, the 
second twelve, from 1803 to 1815. 

Now probably it has occurred to few of us to 
connect these wars together, or to look for any unity 
of plan or purpose pervading them. If such a 
thought did occur, we should probably find ourselves 
hopelessly baffled in our first attempts. In one war 
the question appears to be of the method of suc- 
cession to the Crown of Spain, in another war of the 
Austrian succession and of the succession to the 
Empire. But if there seems so far some resemblance, 
what have these succession questions to do with the 
right of search claimed by the Spaniards along 
the Spanish Main, or the limits of Acadie, or the 
principles of the French Revolution? And as the 
grounds of quarrel seem quite accidental, so we are 
bewildered by the straggling haphazard character of 
the wars themselves. Hostilities may break out in 
the Low Countries or in the heart of Germany, but 
the war is waged, so it seems, anywhere or every- 
where, at Madras, or at the mouth of the St. 
Lawrence, or on the banks of the Ohio. Thus 
Macaulay says in speaking of Frederick's invasion of 


Silesia, " In order that he might rob a neighbour 
whom he had promised to defend, black men fought 
on the coast of Coromandel and red men scalped each 
other by the Great Lakes of North America." On a 
first survey such is the confused appearance which 
these wars present. 

But look a little closer, and after all you will 
discover some uniformities. For example, out of 
these seven wars of England five are wars with 
France from the beginning, and both the other two, 
though the belligerent at the outset was in the first 
Spain and in the second our own colonies, yet became 
in a short time and ended as wars with France. 

Now here is one of those general facts which we 
are in search of. The full magnitude of it is not 
usually perceived, because the whole middle part of 
the eighteenth century has passed too much into 
oblivion. We have not forgotten that there were 
two great wars with France just about the junction 
of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and two 
other great wars with France about the junction of 
the seventeenth and eighteenth, but we have half 
forgotten that near the middle of the eighteenth 
century there was another great war of England and 
France, and that, as prelude and afterpiece to this 
war, there was a war with Spain which turned into a 
war with France, and a war with America which 
turned into a war with France. The truth is, these 
wars group themselves very symmetrically, and the 
whole period stands out as an age of gigantic rivalry 
between England and France, a kind of second 


Hundred Years' War. In fact in those times and 
down to our own memory the eternal discord of 
England and France appeared so much a law of 
nature that it was seldom spoken of. The wars of 
their own times, blending with a vague recollection 
of Cre*cy, Poictiers and Agincourt, created an im- 
pression in the minds of those generations, that 
England and France always had been at war and 
always would be. But this was a pure illusion. In 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries England 
and France had not been these persistent enemies. 
The two states had often been in alliance against 
Spain. In the seventeenth century an Anglo-French 
Alliance had been almost the rule. Elizabeth and 
Henri IV. are allies, Charles I. has a French queen, 
Cromwell acts in concert with Mazarin, Charles II. 
and James II. make themselves dependent upon 
Louis XIV. 

But may not this frequent recurrence of war with 
France have been a mere accident, arising from the 
nearness of France and the necessary frequency of 
collisions with her ? On examination you will find 
that it is not merely accidental, but that these wars 
are connected together in internal causation as well 
as in time. It is rather the occasional cessation of 
war that is accidental ; the recurrence is natural and 
inevitable. There is indeed one long truce of twenty- 
seven years after the Peace of Utrecht ; this was the 
natural effect of the exhaustion in which all Europe 
was left by the war of the Spanish Succession, a war 
almost as great in comparison with the then magnitude 


of the European states as the great struggle with 
Napoleon. But when this truce was over we may 
almost regard all the wars which followed as con- 
stituting one war interrupted by occasional pauses. 
At any rate the three wars between 1740 and 1783, 
those commonly called the War of the Austrian 
Succession, the Seven Years' War and the American 
War, are, so far as they are wars of England and 
France, intimately connected together, and form as it 
were a trilogy of wars. I call your attention par- 
ticularly to this, because this group of wars, considered 
as one great event with a single great object and 
result, supplies just the grand feature which that 
time seems so sadly to want. It is only our own 
blindness and perversity which leads us to overlook 
the grandeur of that phase in our history, while 
we fix our eyes upon petty domestic occurrences, 
parliamentary quarrels, party intrigue, and court- 
gossip. It so happens that the accession of George 
III. falls in the middle of this period, and seems to 
us, in consequence of our childish mode of arranging 
history, to create a division, where there is no real 
division, but rather unusually manifest continuity. 
And as in parliamentary and party politics the 
accession of George III. really did make a consider- 
able epoch, and the temptation of our historians is 
always to write the history rather of the Parliament 
than of the State and nation, a false scent misleads 
us here, and we remain quite blind to one of the 
grandest and most memorable turning-points in our 
history. I say these wars make one grand and 


decisive struggle between England and France. For 
look at the facts. Nominally the first of these three 
wars was ended by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 
1748. Nominally there followed eight years of peace 
between England and France. But really it was not 
so at all. Whatever virtue the treaty of Aix-la- 
Chapelle may have had towards settling the quarrels 
of the other European Powers concerned in the war, 
it scarcely interrupted for a moment the conflict 
between England and France. It scarcely even 
appeared to do so, for the great question of the 
boundary of the English and French settlements in 
America, of the limits of Acadie and Canada, was 
disputed with just as much heat after the Treaty as 
before it. And not in words only but by arms, just 
as much as if war were still going on. Moreover, 
what I remark of the American frontier is equally 
true of another frontier, along which at that time the 
English and French met each other, namely in India. 
It is a remarkable, little-noticed fact that some of the 
most memorable encounters between the English and 
the French which have ever taken place in the course 
of their long rivalry, some of the classic occurrences 
of our military history, took place in these eight years 
when nominally England and France were at peace. 
We have all heard how the French built Fort 
Duquesne on the Ohio Eiver, how our colony of 
Virginia sent a body of 400 men under the command 
of George Washington, then a very young man and 
a British subject, to attack it, and how Washington 
was surrounded and forced to capitulate. We have 


heard too of the defeat and death of General Braddock 
in the same parts. Still better do we remember the 
struggle between Dupleix and Olive in India, the 
defence of Arcot and the deeds which led to the 
founding of our Indian Empire. All these events 
were part of a desperate struggle for supremacy 
between England and France, but you will find that 
most of them took place after the Treaty of Aix-la- 
Chapelle in 1748 and before the commencement of 
the second war in 1756. 

We have then one great conflict lasting from 1744 
or a little earlier to the Peace of Paris in 1763 
through a period of about twenty years. It ended 
in the most disastrous defeat that has ever, in modern 
times, been suffered by France except in 1870, a 
defeat which in fact sealed the fate of the House of 
Bourbon. But fifteen years later, and just within the 
lifetime of the great statesman who had guided us to 
victory, England and France were at war again. 
France entered into relations with our insurgent 
colonies, acknowledged their independence, and as- 
sisted them with troops. Once more for five years 
there was war by land and sea between England and 
France. But are we to suppose that this was a 
wholly new war, and not rather a sort of after-swell 
of the great disturbance that had so recently been 
stilled? It was not for a moment dissembled that 
France now in our hour of distress took vengeance for 
what she had suffered from us. This was her revenge 
for the loss of Canada, namely, to create the United 
States. In the words which on a later occasion 


became so celebrated, she "called a new world into 
existence to redress the balance of the old." 

Thus these three great wars are more clearly 
connected together than they might appear to be. 
But how closely connected they are we shall not see 
until we ask ourselves what the ground of quarrel 
was, and whether the same ground of quarrel runs 
under all of them. At first sight it appears to be 
otherwise. For the war of England and France does 
not at any time stand out distinct and isolated, but 
is mixed up with other wars which are going on at 
the same time. Such immense complex medleys are 
characteristic of the eighteenth century. What, for 
instance, can the capture of Quebec have to do with 
the struggle of Frederick and Maria Theresa for 
Silesia? In such medleys there is great room for 
historical mistakes, for premature generalisation. 
What is really at issue may be misunderstood ; as for 
instance, when we remark that in the Seven Years' 
War all the Protestant Powers of Europe were 
ranged on one side, we should go very far astray if 
we tried to make out that it was Protestantism that 
prevailed in India or in Canada over the spirit of 

I said that the expansion of England in the New 
World and in Asia is the formula which sums up for 
England the history of the eighteenth century. I 
point out now that the great triple war of the middle 
of that century is neither more nor less than the 
great decisive duel between England and France for 
the possession of the New World. It was perhaps 



scarcely perceived at the time, as it has been seldom 
remarked since ; but the explanation of that second 
Hundred Years' War between England and France 
which fills the eighteenth century is this, that they 
were rival candidates for the possession of the New 
World, and the triple war which fills the middle of 
the century is, as it were, the decisive campaign in 
that great world-struggle. 

We did not take possession of North America 
simply because we found it empty and had more 
ships than other nations by which we might carry 
colonists into it. Not indeed that we conquered it 
from another Power which already had possession of 
it. But we had a competitor in the work of 
settlement, a competitor who in some respects had 
got the start of us, namely France. 

The simple fact about North America is this, that 
about the same time that James L was giving 
charters to Virginia and New England the French 
were founding farther North the two settlements of 
Acadie and Canada, and again, about the time that 
William Penn got his Charter for Pennsylvania from 
Charles II. , the Frenchman La Salle, by one of the 
greatest feats of discovery, made his way from the 
Great Lakes to the sources of the Mississippi, and 
putting his boats upon the stream descended the 
whole vast river to the Gulf of Mexico, laying open 
a great territory, which immediately afterwards 
became the French colony of Louisiana. Such was 
the relation of France and England in North America, 
at the time when the Kevolution of 1688 opened 


what I have called the Second Hundred Years' War 
of England and France. England had a row of 
thriving colonies lying from North to South along the 
Eastern coast, but France had the two great rivers, 
the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi. A political 
prophet comparing the prospects of the two colon- 
ising Powers at the time of the Revolution, and 
indeed much later, might have been led by observing 
what an advantage the two rivers gave to France to 
think that in the future North America would belong 
to her rather than to England. 

But now it is most important to observe further 
that not only in America, but in Asia also, France 
and England in that age advanced side by side. 
The conquest of India by English merchants seems a 
unique and abnormal phenomenon, but we should be 
mistaken if we supposed that there was anything 
peculiarly English, either in the originality which 
conceived the idea or in the energy which carried it 
into execution. So far as an idea of conquering 
India was deliberately conceived, it was conceived by 
Frenchmen; Frenchmen first perceived that it was 
feasible and saw the manner in which it could be 
done ; Frenchmen first set about it and advanced 
some way towards accomplishing it. In India indeed 
they had the start of us much more decidedly than 
in North America ; in India we had at the outset a 
sense of inferiority in comparison with them, and 
fought in a spirit of hopeless self-defence. And I 
find, when I study the English conquest of India, 
that we were actuated neither by ambition nor yet 


by mere desire to advance our trade, but that from 
first to last that is, from the first efforts of Clive to 
the time when Lord Wellesley, Lord Minto and 
Lord Hastings established our authority over the 
whole vast peninsula we were actuated by fear of the 
French. Behind every movement of the native 
Powers we saw French intrigue, French gold, French 
ambition, and never, until we were masters of the 
whole country, got rid of that feeling that the French 
were driving us out of it, which had descended from 
the days of Dupleix and Labourdonnais. 

This fact then that, both in America and in Asia, 
France and England stood in direct competition for 
a prize of absolutely incalculable value, explains the 
fact that France and England fought a second 
Hundred Years' War. This is the ultimate ex- 
planation, but the true ground of discord was not 
always equally apparent even to the belligerents 
themselves, and still less to the rest of the world. 
For as in other ages so in this, occasional causes of 
difference frequently arose between such near neigh- 
bours, causes often sufficient by themselves to produce 
a war ; and it was only in those three wars of the 
middle of the eighteenth century that they fought 
quite visibly and apparently on the question of the 
New World. In the earlier wars of William III. and 
of Anne other causes are more, or certainly not less, 
operative, for the New World quarrel is not yet at 
its height. And again in the later wars, that is the 
two that followed the French Revolution, the question 
of the New World is again falling into the back- 


ground, because France has fairly lost her hold both 
upon America and India, and can now do no more 
than make despairing efforts to regain it. But in 
those three wars between 1740 and 1783 the struggle, 
as between England and France, is entirely for the 
New World. In the first of them the issue is fairly 
joined ; in the second France suffers her fatal fall ; in 
the third she takes her signal revenge. This is the 
grand chapter in the history of Greater Britain, for it 
is the first great struggle in which the Empire fights 
as a whole, the colonies and settlements outside 
Europe being here not merely dragged in the wake 
of the mother-country, but actually taking the lead. 
We ought to register this event with a very broad 
mark in our Calendar of the eighteenth century. 
The principal and most decisive incidents of it belong 
to the latter half of the reign of George IL 

But in our wars with Louis XIY. before and in 
our wars with the French Revolution afterwards, it 
will be found on examination that, much more than 
might be supposed, the real bone of contention 
between England and France is the New World. 
The colonial question had indeed been growing in 
magnitude throughout the seventeenth century, while 
the other burning question of that age, the quarrel of 
the two Churches, had been falling somewhat into 
the background. Thus when Cromwell made war on 
Spain, it is a question whether he attacked her as 
the great Catholic Power or as the great monopolist 
of the New World. In the same age the two great 
Protestant Powers, England and Holland, who ought 


in the interest of religion to have stood side by side, 
are found waging furious war upon each other as 
rival colonial Powers. Now it was by the great 
discovery and settlement of Louisiana in 1683 that 
France was brought into the forefront of colonial 
Powers, and within six years of that event the 
Hundred Years' War of England and France began. 

In the first war of the series however, though it 
stands marked in histories of North America as the 
" first intercolonial war," the colonial question is not 
very prominent. But it is prominent in the second, 
which has been called the War of the Spanish Suc- 
cession. We must not be misled by this name. 
Much has been said of the wicked waste of blood and 
treasure of which we were guilty, when we inter- 
fered in a Spanish question with which we had no 
concern, or terrified ourselves with a phantom of 
French Ascendency which had no reality. How 
much better, it has been said, to devote ourselves to 
the civilising pursuits of trade ! But read in Eanke * 
how the war broke out. You will find that it was 
precisely trade that led us into it. The Spanish 
Succession touched us because France threatened, by 
establishing her influence in Spain, to enter into the 
Spanish monopoly of the New World and to shut us 
irrevocably out of it. Accordingly the great practical 
results of this war to England were colonial, namely, 
the conquest of Acadie and the Asiento contract, 

1 Better still in Europ&ische Geschichte im 18 ten Jahrhunderte, 
by C. v. Noorden, in which book that great European transition 
is for the first time adequately treated. 


which for the first time made England on the great 
scale a slave-trading Power. 

Not less true is it of our wars with the 
French Eevolution and with Napoleon, that the 
possession of the New World was among the grounds 
of quarrel. As in the American war France avenges 
on England her expulsion from the New World, so 
under Napoleon she makes Titanic efforts to recover 
her lost place there. This indeed is Napoleon's fixed 
view with regard to England. He sees in England 
never the island, the European State, but always the 
World - Empire, the network of dependencies and 
colonies and islands covering every sea, among which 
he was himself destined to find at last his prison and 
his grave. Thus when in 1798 he was put in charge 
for the first time of the war with England, he begins 
by examining the British Channel, and no doubt 
glances at Ireland. But what he sees does not 
tempt him, although a few months afterward Ireland 
broke out in a terrible rebellion, during which if the 
conqueror of Italy had suddenly landed at the head 
of a French army, undoubtedly he would have struck 
a heavier blow at England than any she has yet 
suffered. His mind is preoccupied with other 
thoughts. He remembers how France once seemed 
on the point of conquering India, until England 1 
checked her progress; accordingly he decides and 
convinces the Directory that the best way to carry on 

1 In his Corsican period he had actually dreamed of entering 
the Anglo-Indian service and coming back a rich nabob. See 
Jung, LMcien Bonaparte et ses Mfrnovres i. p. 74. 


the contest with England is by occupying Egypt, 
and at the same time by stirring up Tippoo Sultan 
to war with the Calcutta Government. And he 
actually carries out this plan, so that the whole 
struggle is transferred from the British Channel into 
the boundless spaces of Greater Britain, and when 
the Irish shortly afterwards rise, l-hey find to their 
bitter disappointment that France cannot spare them 
Bonaparte, but only General Humbert with eleven 
hundred men. 

When this war was brought to an end by the 
treaty of Amiens in 1802, the results of it were such 
as to make a great epoch in the history of Greater 
Britain. In the first place Egypt is finally evacuated 
by France, that is to say, Bonaparte's grand scheme 
of attack against our Indian Empire has failed, his 
ally Tippoo Citoyen Tipou, as he was called had 
been defeated and slain some time before, and General 
Baird had moved with an English force up the Red 
Sea to take part with General Hutchinson in the 
expulsion of the French from Egypt. In the colonial 
world at the same time England remained mistress of 
Ceylon and Trinidad. 

But the last war, that which lasted from 1803 to 
1815, was this in any sense a war for the New 
World? It does not seem to be so; and naturally, 
because England from the beginning had such a naval 
superiority, that Napoleon could never again succeed in 
making his way back into the New World. Never- 
theless I believe that it was intended by Napoleon 
to be so. In the first place look at the origin and 


cause of it. It was at the outset a war for Malta. 
By the treaty of Amiens, England had engaged with- 
in a given time to evacuate Malta, and this for 
certain reasons, which need not here be discussed, she 
afterwards refused to do. Now why did Napoleon 
want her to leave Malta, and why did she refuse to 
do so 1 It was because Malta was the key of Egypt, 
and she had good reason to believe that he would in 
a moment reoccupy Egypt, and that the struggle for 
India would begin again. Thus the war was ulti- 
mately for India, though it was diverted into 
Germany by the Third Coalition. Moreover, though 
by the retention of Malta we did effectually and once 
for all ward off this attack, yet we did not ourselves 
know how successful we had been. We still believed 
India to be full of French intrigue ; we believed the 
Mahratta and Afghan princes and the Persian Shah 
to be puppets worked by the French, as indeed they 
had many French officers in their service. Probably 
the great Mahratta War of 1803 seemed to Lord 
Wellesley to be a part of the war with France, and 
probably Arthur Wellesley believed that at Assaye 
and Argaum he struck at the same enemy as after- 
wards at Salamanca and Waterloo. The fact is that 
Napoleon's intention in this war is obscured to us by 
the grand failure of the maritime enterprise which he 
has planned, and the grand success of the German 
campaign which he has not planned. He drifts in a 
direction he does not intend, yet the Continental System 
and the violent seizure of Spain and Portugal (great 
New World Powers) show that he does not forget his 


original object. Moreover, Colonel Malleson shows 
in his Later Struggles of France in the East, what a 
destructive privateering war the French were able to 
keep up in the Indian Ocean from their island of 
Mauritius long after their naval power had been 
destroyed at Trafalgar. It was by the conquest of 
this island and its retention at the Peace by England 
that the Hundred Years' War of England and France 
for the New World came to an end. 

This general view of the wars of the eighteenth 
century will show you that more is meant than might 
at first appear by the statement that expansion is the 
chief character of English history in the eighteenth 
century. At first it seems merely to mean that the 
conquest of Canada, India and South Africa are 
greater events in intrinsic importance than such 
European or domestic events as Marlborough's war, 
or the succession of the House of Brunswick, or the 
Jacobite rebellion, or even the war with the French 
Revolution. It means in fact, as you will now see, 
that these other great events which seem to have 
nothing to do with the growth of Greater Britain, 
were really closely connected with it, and were 
indeed only successive moments in the great process. 
At first it may seem to mean that the European 
policy of England in that century is of less import- 
ance than its colonial policy. It really means that 
the European policy and the colonial policy are but 
different aspects of the same great national develop- 
ment. And this, nay even more than this, is what 
I desire to show. This single conception brings 


together not only the European with the colonial 
affairs, but also the military struggles with the whole 
peaceful expansion of the country, with that indus- 
trial and commercial growth, which during the same 
century exceeded in England all previous example. 
But in order to understand this it will be necessary 
for us to examine the peculiar nature of the English 
colonisation of the New World. 



THE expression " Colonial Empire " is familiar to us, 
and yet there is something strange in the juxtaposition 
of words. The word Empire seems too military and 
despotic to suit the relation of a mother-country to 

There are two very different kinds of colonisation. 
First there is a kind which may be called natural, in 
the sense that it has manifest analogies in the natural 
world. "Colonies are like fruits which only cling 
till they ripen," said Turgot. Colonisation, say 
others, is like the swarming of bees ; or it is like the 
marriage and migration to another house of the 
grown-up son. And no doubt history furnishes ua 
with real examples of such easy and natural colonisa- 
tion. The primitive migrations may often have been 
of this kind. In the first chapters of European 
history, in the earliest traditions of Greece and Italy, 
which show us the Greco-Italian branch of the Aryan 
family in the act of occupying the territory which 


was afterwards to be the scene of its greatness, we 
see this easy process going on under the influence of 
primitive ideas. We read of the institution called 
ver sacrum, by which all the children born in one 
spring would be dedicated to some deity, who was 
supposed to accept emigration in lieu of sacrifice ; ] 
the votaries accordingly, when they grew up, were 
driven across the frontier, and sometimes they 
settled and founded a city on the spot where an 
animal accidentally overtaken on the journey, in 
whom they saw a guide sent by the god, had chanced 
to stop. From such a sacred animal we are told that 
some cities, e.g. Bovianum and Picenum, received 
their name. 

This may be called perhaps natural colonisation, 
but out of such a system there could grow no colonial 
empire. Accordingly the Greek aTroi/cia, though 
the word is translated colony, was essentially different 
in fact from the modern colony. By a colony we 
understand a community which is not merely deriva- 
tive, but which remains politically connected in a 
relation of dependence with the parent community. 
Now the Greek airoLKia was not such a dependent 
community. Technically it was entirely independent 
of the mother - state, though the sense of kindred 
commonly held it in a condition of permanent alliance. 
The dependency indeed was by no means unknown 

1 Thus Paulus: Magnis periculis adducti vovebant Itali 
quaecunque proximo vere nata essent apud se animalia immo- 
laturos. Sed quom crudele videretur pueros ac puellas innocentes 
interficere, perductos i$ adultarp a.etatem velabant atque ita extra 
fines suos exigebant, 


to the Greeks. Subordinate governments were often 
among them established by a State in a community 
outside itself. But among the Greeks the dependency 
was not a colony, as the colony was not a de- 

The Latin colonia was no doubt dependent enough, 
but it was an institution so peculiar, being a sort of 
contrivance for the purpose of garrisoning conquered 
territory without the expense of maintaining an 
army in it, that we need not discuss it further here. 

It is a remarkable and fundamental fact that the 
old primitive system of the Greeks has not been 
revived in modern times. The colonisation which 
began with the discovery of Columbus, or more 
strictly with the conquest of the-Canaries hjLBfithen- 
court in 1404, has been on a vast scale ; it has 
peopled a territory more extensive a hundredfold 
than the few Mediterranean islands and peninsulas 
which those primitive Greek adventurers occupied, 
yet nowhere, I think, did the mother-state willingly 
allow its emigrants to form independent communities. 
Whatever license might be allowed to the first 
adventurers, to a Cortez orJPjzarro, whatever formid- 
able powers of levying armies and making war or 
peace might be granted, for example, to our East 
India Company, the State nevertheless retained 
invariably the supreme control in its hands, except 
where a successful rebellion forced it out of them. 
Though it seems not to have occurred to Corinth 
that it could possibly carry on government at the 
distance of Sicily, on the other hand it seems just aa 

ill THE EMPIRE 47 

little to have occurred to the Spanjsh__oj Portuguese 
or Dutch or French or English Governments that 
their emigrants could pretend to independence on 
the ground that they were hidden away in the 
PamDas of South America or in the Archipelagos of 
the Pacific Ocean. 

The modern system may be less natural if by 
" natural " we mean " instinctive," but if we mean by 
it "reasonable," which is surely different, we must not 
call it unnatural simply because it is not the system 
of bees or of plants. At any rate let us not take up 
at once the scolding strain, and say, "See the con- 
trast between the humane wisdom of the ancient 
world and the tyranny of the Gothic Middle Ages ! 
The Goth never relaxes for any distance his barbar- 
ous system of constraint ; the mild intelligent Greek, 
guided by nature, perceives that the grown-up child 
has a right to be independent, and so he blesses him 
and bids him farewell" 

Perhaps if we examine the circumstances of the 
modern colonisation we shall see that it grew 
as inevitably out of them as the instinctive system 
grew out of the conditions of the ancient world. 

The appropriation by a settled community of lands 
on the other side of an ocean is wholly different from 
the gradual diffusion of a race over a continuous 
territory or across narrow seas. Slight motives 
calling into operation moderate forces may suffice for 
the latter, but the former demands a prodigious 
leverage. In the life of Colombus it may be re- 
marked that he needs the help of the State at every 


turn. It is the State which has equipped him and paid 
the expense of the discovery. Moreover when the 
discovery is made, it is observable that no irresistible 
impulse prompts the Europeans to take advantage of 
it. When the floodgates are thrown open, there is 
no stream ready to flow, for in Europe at that time 
there was no superfluous population seeking an outlet, 
only individual adventurers ready to go in search of 
gold. Columbus can make no progress but by 
proving to the Sovereigns that the territory he dis- 
covers will yield revenue to them. In these circum- 
stances the State, as its help was always needed, had 
the less difficulty in maintaining its authority. 

We may observe also that the modern State almost 
necessarily colonises in a different way, because its 
nature is different from that of the Greek State. The 
Greek mind identifies the State and City so completely 
that the language, as you know, has but one word for 
both. Aristotle, though he knew of country-states 
such as Macedonia and Persia, yet in his Politics 
seems almost to omit them from consideration. Fre- 
quently he lays down principles from which it appears 
that he could not bring himself to regard them as 
states in the proper sense of the word, because they 
were not cities. The modern idea on the other hand 
few of us know how modern it is, or how gradually 
it has been formed is that the people of one nation, 
speaking one language, ought in general to have one 

Now it is evident that these different ideas of the 
State involve of necessity different ideas of the effect 


of emigration. If the State is the City, it follows 
that he who goes out of the City goes out of the 
State. Hence the Greek view of the colony was 
natural to the Greeks, for those Greeks who under- 
took to form a new city (7roXi9,) did jgsp jacto and 
inevitably undertake to form a new state. But if the 
State is the Nation (not the Country, observe, but the 
Nation), then we see a sufficient ground for the 
universal usage of modern states, which has been to 
regard their emigrants not as going out of the State 
but as carrying the State with them. The notion was, 
Where Englishmen are there is England, where French- 
men are there is France, and so the possessions of 
France in North America were called New France, 
and one group at least of the English possessions New 

It is involved in this, but it is so important that it 
must be stated separately, that the organisation of the 
modern State admits of unbounded territorial ex- 
tension, while that of the ancient State did not. The 
Greek TroXt?, as it actually was a city, could not be 
modified so as to become anything else. I must 
never be tired of quoting that passage of the Politics 
which is so infinitely important to the student of 
political science, where Aristotle lays it down that 
the jState must be of moderate population, because 
" who could command it in war, if the population were 
excessive, or what herald short of a Stentor could speak 
to them ? (7-19 Be /cfjpvj; /JLTJ ^revropeios ;)." The 
modern State, being already as large as a country, 
would bear to become larger. Either it had no 


national assemblies, as was practically the case with 
France and Spain, or its national assembly, as in 
the case of England, was representative that is to 
say, was expressly contrived to overcome the diffi- 
culty of bringing together the whole body of the 

I have indulged in these general reflections upon 
the nature of modern colonisation in order that we 
may understand what our Empire is, and how it 
necessarily came into existence. There might easily 
have been a great emigration from England which 
would not in any way have enlarged the English 
State. For by Greater Britain we mean an enlarge- 
ment of the English State, and not simply of the 
English nationality. It is not simply that a popula- 
tion of English blood is now found in Canada and in 
Australia, as in old time a Greek population was 
spread over Sicily, South Italy and the Western 
Coast of Asia Minor. That was an extension of the 
Nationality but not of the State, an extension which 
gave no new strength, and did not in any way help 
the Greek name when it was attacked and conquered 
from Macedonia. In like manner at present we see 
a constant stream of emigration from Germany to 
America, but no Greater Germany comes into exist- 
ence, because these emigrants, though they carry 
with them and may perhaps not altogether lose their 
language and their ideas, do not carry with them 
their State. This is the case with Germany because 
its emigration has happened too late, when the New 
World is already carved into States, into which its 


emigrants are compelled to enter, as with Greece it 
was the result of a theory of the State, which identi- 
fied it with the City. But Greater Britain is a real 
enlargement of the English State; it carries across 
the seas not merely the English race, but the 
authority of the English Government. We call it for 
want of a better word an Empire. And it does re- 
semble the great Empires of history in this respect, 
that it is an aggregate of provinces, each of which has 
a government sent out to it from the political head- 
quarters, which is a kind of delegation from the 
supreme government. But yet it is wholly unlike 
the great Empires of the Old World, Persian or 
Macedonian or Roman or Turkish, because it is not 
in the main founded on conquest, and because in the 
main the inhabitants of the distant provinces are of 
the same nation as those of the dominant country. 
It resembles them in its vast extent, but it does not 
resemble them in that violent military character 
which has made most Empires short-lived and liable 
to speedy decay. 

We may see now out of what conditions it arose. 
It is the only considerable survivor of a family of 
great Empires, which arose out of the contact of the 
Western States of Europe with the New World so 
suddenly laid open by Vasco da Gamaand Columbus. 
What England did, was done equally by Spain, 
Portugal, France and Holland. There was once a 
(greater Spain, a Greater Portugal, a Greater France 
and a Greater Holland, as well as a Greater Britain, 
but from various causes those four Empires have 


either perished or have become insignificant. Greater 
Spain disappeared and Greater Portugal lost ita 
largest province Brazil half a century ago in wars of 
independence similar to that which tore from us our 
American colonies. Greater France and a large part 
of Greater Holland were lost in war and became 
merged in Greater Britain. Greater Britain itself 
after suffering one severe shock has survived to the 
present day, and remains the single monument of a 
state of the world which has almost passed away. 
At the same time it differs in a very essential point 
from some of those Empires. 

The countries which were suddenly thrown open 
to Europe at the end of the fifteenth century fall into 
three classes. Vasco da Gama threw open countries 
in which for the most part ancient and extensive 
states existed, such as the adventurers did not for a 
long time think of subverting. Columbus on the 
other hand discovered a Continent in which only two 
such states appeared to exist, and even these were 
soon proved to have no solidity. The contact which 
Columbus established, being the most strange and 
violent which ever took place between two parts of 
the human family, led to a fierce struggle and furnished 
one of the most terrible pages to the annals of the world. 
But in this struggle there was no sort of equality. 
The American race had no more power of resisting 
the European than the sheep has of resisting the 
wolf. Even where it was numerous and had a settled 
polity, as in Peru, it could make no resistance ; ita 
states were crushed, the ruling families extinguished, 


and the population itself reduced to a form of slavery. 
Everywhere therefore the country fell into the hands 
of the immigrating race, and was disposed of at its 
pleasure as so much plunder. The immigrants did 
not merely, as in India, gradually show a great 
military superiority to the native race, so as in the end 
to subdue them, but overwhelmed them at once like 
a party of hunters suddenly assailing a herd of 
antelopes. This was the case everywhere, but yet 
the countries of America also fall into two classes. 
There was a great difference between the regions of 
Central and Southern America, which fell principally 
to the Spanish and Portuguese, and the North 
American territories, which fell to England. In 
Mexico, Peru and some other parts of South America 
the native population, though feeble compared to the 
Europeans, was not insignificant in numbers ; it was 
counted by millions, had reached the agricultural 
stage of civilisation, and had cities. But the tribes 
of Indians which wandered over the territories of 
North America, which now belong to the United 
States and the Dominion of Canada, were much 
more insignificant. It has been estimated that " the 
total Indian population within the territory of the 
United States east of the Eocky Mountains, did not 
at any time subsequent to the discovery of America 
exceed, if indeed it even reached, three hundred 
thousand individuals." Accordingly, whereas in New 
Spain the European, though supreme, yet lived in the 
midst of a population of native Indians, the European in 
North America supplanted the native race entirely, 


pushed it ever farther back as he advanced, and did 
not blend with it at all. 

It was ultimately the fortune of England to ac- 
quire the most important share both of what Vasco 
da Gama and of what Columbus laid open. On one 
side has grown up her Indian, and mainly on the 
other her Colonial Empire. But of the latter group 
of countries, the countries wanting in strong states, 
England occupied those which were comparatively 
empty, and the Australian territory which has since 
fallen to her is in the same condition. This fact has 
an all-important consequence. 

I remarked before that Greater Britain is an ex- 
tension of the English State and not merely of the 
English nationality. But it is an equally striking 
characteristic of Greater Britain that nevertheless it 
is an extension of the English nationality. When a 
nationality is extended without any extension of the 
State, as in the case of the Greek colonies, there may 
be an increase of moral and intellectual influence, but 
there is no increase of political power. On the other 
hand, when the State advances beyond the limits of 
the nationality, its power becomes precarious and 
artificial. This is the condition of most empires ; it 
is the condition for example of our own empire in 
India. The English State is powerful there, but the 
English nation is but an imperceptible drop in the 
ocean of an Asiatic population. And when a nation 
extends itself into other territories the chances are 
that it will there meet with other nationalities which 
it cannot destroy or completely drive out, even if it 


succeeds in conquering them. When this happens, 
it has a great and permanent difficulty to contend 
with. The subject or rival nationalities cannot be 
perfectly assimilated, and remain as a permanent 
cause of weakness and danger. It has been the for- 
tune of England in extending itself to evade on the 
whole this danger. For it has occupied parts of the 
globe which were so empty that they offered an un- 
bounded scope for new settlement. There was land 
for every emigrant who chose to come, and the native 
races were not in a condition sufficiently advanced to 
withstand even the peaceful competition, much less 
the power, of the immigrants. 

This statement is true on the whole. The English 
Empire is on the whole free from that weakness which 
has brought down most empires, the weakness of being 
a mere mechanical forced union of alien nationalities. 
It is sometimes described as an essentially feeble 
union which could not bear the slightest shock, with 
what reason I may examine later, but it has the 
fundamental strength which most empires and some 
commonwealths want. Austria for instance is divided 
by the nationality-rivalry of ^erman, Slav, and Mag- 
yar ; the Swiss Confederation unites three languages, 
but the English Empire in the main and broadly may 
be said to be English throughout. 

Of course, however, considerable abatements are to 
be made. It is only in one of the four great groups, 
namely, in the Australian colonies, that the statement 
is true almost without qualification. The native 
Australian race is so low in the ethnological scale 


that it can never give the least trouble, but even 
here, since we reckon New Zealand in this group, we 
are to bear in mind that the Maori tribes occupy the 
Northern island in some force, much as in the last 
century the Highland Clans gave us trouble in the 
northern part of our own island, and the Maori is by 
no means a contemptible type of man. Nevertheless 
the whole number of Maories is not supposed to 
exceed forty thousand, and it is rapidly diminishing. 
When we turn to another group, the North American 
colonies, included principally in the Dominion of 
Canada, we find that the nucleus of it was acquired 
originally, not by English settlement, but by the con- 
quest of French settlements. At the outset therefore 
the nationality-difficulty, instead of being absent here, 
was present in the gravest form. The original Canada 
of the French was afterwards known as Lower Canada, 
and since the establishment of the Dominion it has 
borne the name of the Province of Quebec. It has a 
population of nearly a million and a half, while the 
whole Dominion does not contain four millions and a 
half. These are Frenchmen and Catholics in the 
midst of a population mainly English and Protestant. 
It is not so long since the inconvenience of this alien 
population was felt in Canada by discords essentially 
similar to those which the nationality-question has 
created in Austria and Russia. The Canadian Re- 
bellion which marked the first years of the reign of 
Queen Victoria, was in fact a war of nationality in 
the British Empire, though it wore the disguise of a 
war of liberty, as Lord Durham expressly remarki 



in the opening of his famous Report on Canada : "I 
expected to find a contest between a government and 
a people ; I found two nations warring in the bosom 
of a single state ; I found a struggle not of principles 
but of races." It is however to be remarked on the 
other side that here too the alien element dwindles, 
and is likely ultimately to be lost in the English 
immigration, and also that its animosity has been 
much pacified by the introduction of federal in- 

In the third or West Indian group also the differ- 
ences of nationality are considerable. Here almost 
alone in our Empire are to be traced the effects of 
the peculiar phenomenon of the history of the New 
World, negro slavery. Here it first appeared on a 
considerable scale, as the immediate result of the 
discovery of Columbus. So long as it lasted, it did 
not call into existence the nationality-difficulty, for a 
thoroughly enslaved nation is a nation no longer, and 
a servile insurrection is wholly different from the 
insurrection of an oppressed nationality. But when 
slavery is abolished, while the slaves themselves re- 
main, stamped so visibly in colour and physical type 
with the badge of their different nationality, yet now 
free and laying claim to citizenship, then it is that 
the nationality-difficulty begins to threaten. But in 
the West-Indian group such difficulties for the present 
do not take a serious form, because the colonies are 
in the main dispersed in small islands and have no 
community of feeling. 

It is in the fourth or South African group that 


the nationality-difficulty is most serious. It is here 
a double difficulty. There have been two conquests, 
the one superinduced upon the other. The Dutch 
first settled themselves among the native races, and 
then the Dutch colony was conquered by England. 
So far the case may seem to resemble that of Canada, 
where the French settled among the Indians and were 
then conquered by the English. But there are two 
differences. In the first place the native tribes of 
South Africa, instead of disappearing and dwindling 
before the whites, greatly outnumber them, and show 
a power of combination and progress such as the Eed 
Indian never showed. Thus in the census of 1875 I 
find that the Cape Colony had a total population of 
nearly three quarters of a million, but two out of the 
three quarters were native and only one European. 
And behind this native population dwelling among the 
settlers there is an indefinite native population ex- 
tending without limit into the interior of the vast 
continent. But secondly the other difficulty, which 
arises from the fact that the settlers themselves were 
at the outset not English but Dutch, does not diminish 
or tend to disappear, as it has done in Canada. In 
Canada there took place a rapid immigration of Eng- 
lish, who, showing themselves in a marked degree 
more energetic than the French and increasing much 
faster, gradually gave the whole community a pre- 
dominantly English character, so that in fact the 
rising of the French in 1838 was the convulsion of 
despair of a sinking nationality. Nothing similar 
has happened in South Africa, no rapid English im< 


migration has come to give a new character to the 

These are the abatements which must be made to 
the general proposition that Greater Britain is homo- 
geneous in nationality. They need not prevent us 
from laying down this general proposition as true. 
If in these islands we feel ourselves for all purposes 
one nation, though in Wales, in Scotland and in 
Ireland there is Celtic blood, and Celtic languages 
utterly unintelligible to .us are still spoken, so in the 
Empire a good many French and Dutch and a good 
many Caffres and Maories may be admitted without 
marring the ethnological unity of the whole. 

This ethnological unity is of great importance 
when we would form an opinion about the stability 
and chance of duration of the Empire. The chief 
forces which hold a community together and cause it 
to constitute one State are three, common nationality, 
common religion, and common interest. These may 
act in various degrees of intensity, and they may also 
act singly or in combination. Now when it is argued 
that Greater Britain is a union which will not last long 
and will soon fall to pieces, the ground taken is that 
it wants the third of these binding forces, that it is 
not held together by community of interest. " What," 
it is said, " can the inhabitants of Australia and New 
Zealand, living on the other side of the Tropic of 
Capricorn, have in common with ourselves who live 
beyond the 50th degree of north latitude? Who 
does not see that two communities so remote from 
each other cannot long continue parts of one political 


whole 1 " Now this is a very important consideration, 
especially as it is backed by the impressive fact that 
our American Colonies did in the last century find 
their union with us intolerable. But, allowing its 
importance, we may remark that, even if this bond 
is wanting, the other two bonds which hold states 
together are not wanting. Many empires in which 
hostile nationalities and religions have been but 
artificially united have nevertheless lasted several 
centuries, but Greater Britain is not a mere empire, 
though we often call it so. Its union is of the more 
vital kind. It is united by blood and religion, and 
though circumstances may be imagined in which 
these ties might snap, yet they are strong ties, and 
will only give way before some violent dissolving 

T have enlarged in this lecture upon the essential 
nature of our colonial Empire, because there is much 
ambiguity both about the word " colonial " and about 
the word "Empire." Our colonies do not resemble the 
colonies which classical students meet with in Greek 
and Roman history, and our Empire is not an Empire 
at all in the ordinary sense of the word. It does not 
consist of a congeries of nations held together by 
force, but in the main of one nation, as much as if it 
were no Empire but an ordinary state. This fact is 
fundamental when we look to the future and inquire 
whether it is calculated for duration. 

But I have also enlarged upon the whole class of 
Empires which sprang out of the discovery of the New 
World, to which class our own Empire belongs, in 



order that we may understand the past. England in 
the eighteenth century is regarded, I said, too much 
as a European insular State and too little as an 
American and Asiatic Empire ; in short, we think of 
Great Britain too much and of Greater Britain too 
little. But the misconception spreads further, for in 
that century there is also a Greater France, a Greater 
Holland, a Greater Portugal, and a Greater Spain, 
and all these we overlook as we overlook Greater 

Here is a fundamental characteristic of the 
European States during the eighteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries, which is seldom borne in mind, 
namely that each of the five Western States has an 
Empire in the New World attached to it. Before the 
seventeenth century this condition of things was but 
beginning, and since the eighteenth it has ceased 
again to exist. The vast immeasurable results of the 
discovery of Columbus were developed with extreme 
slowness, so that the whole sixteenth century passed 
away before most of these nations bestirred them- 
selves to claim a share in the New World. There 
existed no independent Holland till near the end of 
that century, so that a fortiori there could be no 
Greater Holland, nor did either England or France 
in that century become possessors of colonies. 
France did indeed plan a settlement in North. 
America, as the name Carolina, derived from Charles 
DL. of France,. still remains to prove, but the neigh- 
bouring Spaniards of Florida interfered to destroy it. 
A little later Sir Walter Kaleigh's colony in the same 


neighbourhood disappeared altogether, leaving no 
trace behind it. Accordingly during almost the 
whole of that century the New World remained in 
the possession of the two States which had done most 
to lay it open, viz. Spain and Portugal, Spain look- 
ing chiefly towards America and Portugal towards 
Asia, until in 1580 the two States coalesced in a 
union which lasted sixty years. The Dutch made 
their grand entrance into the competition for empire 
in the seven years from 1595 to 1602, and they were 
followed by France and England in the early years of 
the seventeenth century, that is, in the reign of our 
King James L 

Again in the nineteenth century the competition 
of these five states in the New World ceased. It 
ceased from two causes: wars of independence, in 
which Transatlantic colonies severed themselves from 
the mother-country, and the colonial conquests of 
England. I have described already the Hundred 
Years' War in which Greater France was swallowed 
up in Greater Britain ; Greater Holland in like manner 
suffered serious diminution, losing the Cape of Good 
Hope and Demerara to England, though even now a 
Greater Holland may be said to exist in the magni- 
ficent dependency of Java, with a population of not 
less than nineteen millions. The fall of Greater 
Spain and Greater Portugal has happened in the 
present century within the lifetime of many who are 
still among us. If we estimated occurrences less by 
the excitement they cause at the moment and more 
by the consequences which are certain to follow them, 



we should call this one of the most stupendous events 
in the history of the globe, for it is the beginning of 
the independent life of almost the whole of Southern 
and Central America. It took place mainly in the 
twenties of this century, and was the result of a 
series of rebellions which, when we inquire into their 
origin, we find to have arisen out of the shock given 
to Spain and Portugal by Napoleon's invasion of them, 
so that in fact one of the chief, if not the chief, result 
of Napoleon's career has been the fall of Greater 
Spain and Greater Portugal, and the independence of 
South America. 

The result of all these mighty revolutions of 
which however I fancy that few of you know any- 
thing is that the Western States of Europe, with the 
exception of England, have been in the main severed 
again from the New World. This of course is only 
roughly true. Spain still possesses Cuba and Porto 
Rico, Portugal still has large African possessions, France 
has begun to found a new Empire in North Africa. 
Nevertheless these four states have materially altered 
their position in the world. They have become in 
the main purely European States again, as they were 
before Columbus crossed the Atlantic. It is easy to 
show you the immense magnitude of this change. 
Spain has lately passed through a disturbed time. 
She expelled a Bourbon sovereign and tried for a 
time the experiment of a Republic. This change was 
doubtless very serious in the peninsula, but it pro- 
duced wonderfully little excitement in the world at 
large. Now if anything similar had happened in the 


eighteenth or in the seventeenth century, the shock 
of it would have been felt over a great part of the 
planet. From Mexico to Buenos Ayres, from above 
the Tropic of Cancer to below the Tropic of Capricorn, 
every territory probably would have been convulsed 
with rebellion and civil war. In like manner the 
recent calamities in France would in the eighteenth 
century have shaken the St. Lawrence, the Great 
Lakes of North America and the Mississippi, and 
have influenced the policy of princes in the Deccan 
and the valley of the Ganges, nay perhaps have 
altered the balance of Hindostan. As it was, those 
calamities were nearly confined to France itself ; else- 
where sympathies were excited, but interests were 
not touched. 

Thus then we see in the seventeenth and still more 
the eighteenth century a period when the New World 
was attached in a peculiar way to the five Western 
States of the European system. This attachment 
modifies and determines all the wars and negotiations, 
all the international relations of Europe during that 
period. In the last lecture I pointed out that the 
struggle between England and France in those 
centuries cannot be understood so long as we look at 
Europe alone, and that the belligerents are really the 
World-Powers, Greater Britain and Greater France. 
Now I remark that in like manner during the same 
period we must always read for Holland, Portugal, 
and Spain, Greater Holland, Greater Portugal, and 
Greater Spain. I remark also that this state of 
things has now passed away, that the Spanish Empire, 


and in the main also the Portuguese and Dutch 
Empires, have gone the same way as the Empire of 
France. But Greater Britain still remains. And 
thus we perceive the historical origin and character 
of this Empire. It is the sole survivor of a whole 
family of Empires, which arose out of the action of 
the discovery of the New World upon the peculiar 
condition and political ideas of Europe. All these 
Empires were beset by certain dangers, which Greater 
Britain alone has hitherto escaped, though she too 
has felt the shock of them and is still exposed to 
them, and the great question now is whether she can 
modify her defective constitution in such a way as 
to escape them for the future. 



I REMARKED that ancient Greek colonisation, com- 
pared with the modern syatem, might be called in a 
certain sense the natural system. And yet the 
modern system might be represented as natural also, 
The Greeks regard the State as essentially small, and 
infer that a surplus population can only be accommo- 
dated by founding another State. But is there any- 
thing necessarily unnatural in the other view, that 
the State is capable of indefinite growth and expan- 
sion? The ripe fruit dropping from the tree and 
giving rise to another tree may be natural, but so is 
the acorn spreading into the huge oak, that has 
hundreds of branches and thousands of leaves. If 
Miletus among its daughter-cities may remind us of 
the one, England expanding into Greater Britain 
resembles the other. 

And yet surely there must be something unnatural 
in the system against which our own colonists revolted 
a hundred years ago, and the colonists of Spain and 
Portugal a few years later. 


The truth is that the simple idea of expansion has 
seldom been conceived or realised clearly. 

Let us work out a little in our minds the concep- 
tion of a Greater Britain, of the English State 
extended indefinitely without being altered. The 
question is often asked, What is the good of colonies ? 
but no such question could possibly be raised, if 
colonies really were such a simple extension of the 
mother-state. Whether this extension is practicable 
may be questioned, but it cannot be questioned that 
if it were practicable it would be desirable. 

We must begin by recognising that the unoccupied 
territory of the globe is to those who take possession 
of it so much wealth in the most absolute sense of the 
word. The epitaph which said that to Leon and Aragon 
Columbus gave a new world was almost literally true. 
He conferred upon certain persons a large landed 
estate, and if, as the result, many poor people did 
not become rich and many unfortunate people pros- 
perous, the fault must have lain in the distribution or 
administration of the wealth which he conferred. 
By his discovery the nations of Europe came in for a 
landed estate so enormously large that it might easily 
have converted every poor man in Europe into a 
landed proprietor. 

But one thing was necessary before all this wealth 
could be reduced into possession and enjoyment. 
Property can exist only under the guardianship of 
the State. In order therefore that the lands of the 
New World might become secure enjoyable property, 
States must be set up in the New World. Without the 


State the settler would run the risk of being murdered 
by Indians, or attacked by rival settlers of some 
hostile nationality. On the other hand suppose the 
reign of law and government established in the New 
World, as in Europe, so that property is equally 
secure, then the poor man in Europe who finds life 
painful and the acquisition of land in these crowded 
countries utterly beyond his power, has only to 
transfer himself to the New World, where land is 
cheaper, and he is at once enriched as much as if he 
had received a legacy. 

Thus there can be no dispute about the value of 
organised States in the less crowded parts of the globe. 
But why should these be our own colonies 1 There 
is nothing to prevent the emigrant from settling in 
a colony belonging to some different European State 
or in an independent State. Why need we trouble 
ourselves therefore to keep up colonies of our own ? 

This is a strange question, which would never be 
asked in England but for an exceptional circumstance. 
Most people like to live among their own country- 
men, under the laws, religion and institutions they 
are accustomed to. They place themselves moreover 
most really and practically at a disadvantage by 
going to live among people who speak a different 
language. As a matter of fact, we do not find that, 
the course of emigration being free, any large number 
of Englishmen yearly settle in those New World 
States which are really foreign, that is, in the South 
American Republics or in Brazil or in Mexico. 
There would be no question at all about the value of 


colonies, and we should all as a matter of course 
consider that only by means of colonies was it 
possible to bring the wealth of the New World 
within the reach of our population, if it were not for 
the existence of the United States. But the United 
States are to us almost as good as a colony ; our 
people can emigrate thither without sacrificing their 
language or chief institutions or habits. And the 
Union is so large and prosperous and fills our view 
so much, that we forget how very exceptional its 
relation to us is, and also that if it is to us almost as 
good as a colony, this is only because it was con- 
structed out of English colonies. In estimating the 
value of colonies in the abstract, we shall only confuse 
ourselves by recollecting this unique case ; we ought 
to put the United States entirely out of view. 

Considered in the abstract then, colonies are 
neither more nor less than a great augmentation of 
the national estate. They are lands for the landless, 
prosperity and wealth for those in straitened cir- 
cumstances. This is a very simple view, and yet it 
is much overlooked, as if somehow it were too simple 
to be understood. History offers many examples of 
nations cramped for want of room; it records in many 
cases how they swarmed irresistibly across their 
frontiers and spread like a deluge over neighbouring 
countries, where sometimes they found lands and 
wealth. Now we may be very sure that never any 
nation was half so much cramped for want of room in 
the olden time as our own nation is now. Populations 
so dense as that of modern England are a phenomenon 


quite new at least in Europe. We continually speak 
of our country as crowded, and, since the rate of increase 
of population is tolerably constant, we sometimes ask 
with alarm what will be its condition half a century 
hence. "The territory," we say, "is a fixed quantity; 
we have but 120,000 square miles; it is crowded already 
and yet the population doubles in some seventy years. 
What will become of us?" Now here is a curious 
example of our habit of leaving our colonial posses- 
sions out of account. What ! our country is small ; 
a poor, 120,000 square miles ? I find the fact to be 
very different. I find that the territory governed by 
the Queen is of almost boundless extent. Let us 
deduct from the vast total India, as not much open 
to settlement, still the territory subject to the Queen 
is much greater than that of the United States, though 
that is uniformly cited as the example of a country 
not crowded and in which there is boundless room for 
expansion. It may be true that the mother-country 
of this great Empire is crowded, but in order to 
relieve the pressure it is not necessary for us, as if we 
were Goths or Turcomans, to seize upon the territory 
of our neighbours, it is not necessary even to incur 
great risks or undergo great hardships; it is only 
necessary to take possession of boundless territories 
in Canada, South Africa and Australia, where already 
our language is spoken, our religion professed, and 
our laws established. If there is pauperism in Wilt- 
shire and Dorsetshire, this is but complementary 
to unowned wealth in Australia; on the one side 
there are men without property, on the other there 


is property waiting for men. And yet we do not 
allow these two facts to come together in our minds, 
but brood anxiously and almost despairingly over 
the problem of pauperism, and when colonies are 
mentioned we ask, What is the good of colonies ? 

Partly no doubt this is due simply to a want of 
system in our way of thinking on subjects of this 
kind, but partly also it is evident that colonies have 
never been regarded in England as a simple extension 
of the English state and nation over new territory. 
They have been thought of no doubt as belonging to 
England, though precariously, but at the same time 
as outside of England, so that what goes out of 
England to them is in a manner lost to England. 
This appears clearly from the argument which is often 
urged against emigration on any large scale, viz. that 
it might be good for the emigrants, but that it would 
be ruinous to England, which would be deprived of 
all the best and hardiest part of its population 
deprived, for it is not imagined that such emigrants 
could remain Englishmen, or be still serviceable to 
the English commonwealth. Compare this view of 
emigration with that taken in the United States, 
where the constant movement of the population 
westward, the constant settlement of new Territories, 
which in due time rise to be States, is not regarded 
as either a symptom or a cause of weakness, 
not at all as a draining-out of vitality, but on the 
contrary as the greatest evidence of vigour and the 
best means of increasing it. 

We have not really then as yet a Greater Britain. 


When I speak of the creation of Greater Britain 
during the eighteenth century, I in a certain sense 
exaggerate. In our colonial Empire was laid the 
foundation of a Greater Britain, and a Greater Britain 
may in the end arise out of it, but nothing of the 
kind was originally intended, nor later was the true 
significance of what had taken place perceived. A 
colony was not really thought of as an extension of 
the mother-state, but as something different. What 
then was the precise conception formed of a colony 1 
We find ourselves forced to ask this question again. 

I have pointed out already that in the sixteenth 
century there was no natural overflow of population 
from Europe into the New World. Europe was not 
over-peopled; there was no imperious demand for 
more room. Why then should the conception, so 
natural to us in these days, of a territorial extension 
of the State occur to those who lived at the time 
of the discoveries? We see on the contrary that 
contemporary statesmen were puzzled to decide what 
use could be made, and even doubted whether any 
use could be made, of the new lands. Sebastian 
Cabot is encouraged by Henry VII., until it is found 
that he does not bring back spices; then he is 
neglected, and abandons England for the Spanish 
service. 1 Thus the same cause which made it neces- 
sary to call in the help of the State led to a peculiarly 
materialistic view of the work of settlement. What 
the State wanted was revenue; hence it became 

1 Schanz, Englische Handelspolitik. Read the whole chapter 
entitled, Die SteUung der beiden ersten Tudors zu den Entdeckungen. 


necessary to regard the new countries rather as so 
much wealth to be transported into Europe than as a 
new seat for European civilisation. 

I spoke before of natural colonisation, intending 
such colonisation as results from the spread of a race 
over an unbounded territory at a time when political 
institutions are in their infancy. The colonisation of 
the sixteenth century is curiously different. It arises 
from the discovery of remote regions of unknown 
wealth- by nations accustomed to a limited space and 
to a rigorous government. As in the former kind the 
State scarcely appears, but individuals or rat&er tribes 
accomplish the work, and in making a new settle- 
ment make a new state, in the latter kind the State 
takes the lead, superintends the settlement, recruits 
for it, holds it in subjection when it is made, and, as 
a consequence, looks to make a profit out of it. At 
first sight this latter system might seem less material- 
istic than the other, for it conceives the State as 
resting not upon mere locality but upon kindred; but 
it becomes more materialistic in practice because it 
looks at the colony purely with the eyes of the 
Government, and therefore from a purely fiscal point 
of view. Hence in the first settlement of America 
the conception of a Spanish colony as an extension of 
Spain was mixed up with a different conception of it 
as a possession belonging to Spain. And whereas the 
first conception, though it was formed instinctively, 
yet answered to nothing in experience, for who had 
ever heard of two parts of the same State separated 
by the whole breadth of the Atlantic Ocean? the 


second conception was less embarrassing in practice 
because it was by no means new. There had been 
examples in the Middle Ages of States possessing 
dependencies separated from them by the sea, and I 
daresay it might be possible to show that the Spanish 
Council of the Indies was guided at times by the 
precedents afforded by Venice in its dealings with 
Candia and with its dependencies in the Adriatic. 
The Venetian conception of a dependency was purely 
selfish and commercial. So far from thinking of it as 
forming part of the Republic, they regarded it as so 
much livfe stock forming part of the wealth of the 
Republic. Thus it was by confounding together two 
theories radically inconsistent with each other that 
the modern colonial system, first formed by Spain and 
adopted with more or less modification by the other 
Powers of Europe, came into existence. 

Now we have this conception more or less distinctly 
in our minds whenever we ask the question, What is 
the good of colonies ? That question implies that we 
think of a colony, not as part of our State, but as a 
possession belonging to it. For we should think it 
absurd to raise such a question about a recognised 
part of the body politic. Who ever thought of 
inquiring whether Cornwall or Kent rendered any 
sufficient return for the money which we lay out upon 
them, whether those counties were worth keeping? 
The tie that holds together the parts of a nation- 
state is of another kind ; it is not composed of con- 
siderations of profit and loss, but is analogous to the 
family bond. The same tie would hold a nation to 


its colonies, if colonies were regarded as simply an 
extension of the nation. If Greater Britain in the 
full sense of the phrase really existed, Canada and 
Australia would be to us as Kent and Cornwall. But 
if once we cease to regard a colony in this way, if we 
consider that the emigrants, who have gone forth 
from us, have ceased to belong to our community, 
then we must form some other conception of their 
relation to us. And this must either be the old Greek 
conception which treats them as grown-up children 
who have married and settled at a distance, so that 
the family bond has dissolved away by the mere 
necessity of circumstances, or if the connection is 
maintained, as the modern States insisted on main- 
taining it, it must change its character. It must rest 
on interest. The question must be asked, What is 
the good of the colony 1 and it must be answered by 
some proof that the colony considered as a piece of 
property, or as an investment of public money, pays. 
Now this may be a very good basis for the union 
of two countries, provided the benefit received from 
the union is mutual. In this case it constitutes a 
federation, and there are many instances in which, 
without any tie of kindred, countries have been held 
together in such a union simply by the sense of a 
common interest. Among these instances are Austria 
and Hungary, the German, French and Italian cantons 
of the Swiss Confederation. Such would be the case 
of our own Empire, if not only we ourselves felt that 
our colonies paid that is, that we reaped some 
advantage from them which we should cease to reap if 


they became independent but also uhe colonies felt 
that the mother-country paid, and that they gained 
something by the connection with it. And in the 
present day it is quite easy to imagine such a sense 
of common interest existing between us and even the 
remotest of our colonies, because in the present day 
distance has been almost abolished by steam and 
electricity. But in the first ages after the discovery 
of the New World such a common interest was less 
possible. The Atlantic Ocean was then for practical 
purposes a far deeper and wider gulf, across which 
any reciprocal exchange of services could not easily 
take place. And so the old colonial system in 
general had not the character of an equal federation. 
It is the custom to describe the old colonies as 
sacrificed to the mother-country. We must be careful 
not to admit that statement without qualification. 
It is supposed for instance that the revolt of our own 
American colonies was provoked by the selfish 
treatment of the mother-country, which shackled their 
trade without rendering them any benefit in return 
for these restraints. This is far from being true. 
Between England and the American colonies there 
was a real interchange of services. England gave 
defence in return for trade-privileges. In the middle 
of the last century, at the time when the American 
quarrel began, it was perhaps rather the colonies than 
the mother-country that had fallen into arrear. We 
had been involved in two great wars mainly by our 
colonies, and the final breach was provoked not so 
much by the pressure of England upon the colonies 


as by that of the colonies upon England. If we 
imposed taxes upon them, it was to meet the debt 
which we had incurred in their behalf, and we saw 
with not unnatural bitterness that we had ourselves 
enabled our colonies to do without us, by destroying 
for their interest the French power in North America. 

Still it was true of the old colonial system in 
general that it placed the colony in the position, not 
so much of a state in federation, as of a conquered 
state. Some theory of the kind is evidently implied 
in the language which is commonly used. .We speak 
of the colonial possessions of England or of Spain. 
Now in what sense can one population be spoken of 
as the possession of another population? The ex- 
pression almost seems to imply slavery, and at any 
rate it is utterly inappropriate, if it ^merely means 
that the one population is subject to the same 
Government as the other. At the bottom of it 
certainly was the idea that the colony was an estate 
which was to be worked for the benefit of the mother- 

The relation of Spain to its colonies had become a 
type which other states kept before their eyes. A 
native population reduced to serfdom, in some parts 
driven to compulsory labour by caciques turned into 
state-officials, in other parts exterminated by over- 
work and then replaced by negroes; an imperious 
mother-country drawing from the colony a steady 
revenue, and ruling it through an artful mechanism 
of division, by which the settlers were held in check 
by the priesthood and by a serf-population treated 




paternally that it might be available for that purpose : 
such was the typical colonial system. It was wholly 
unfit to be a model to such a colony as New England, 
which paid no revenue, where there were neither 
subject Indians nor mines of gold and silver. 
Nevertheless governments could not afford to forget 
the precedent of profitable colonies, and I find 
Charles II. appealing to it in 1663. It became an 
established principle that a colony was a possession. 

Now it is essentially barbaric that one community 
should be treated as the property of another and the 
fruits of its industry confiscated, not in return for 
benefits conferred, but by some absolute right whether 
of conquest or otherwise. Even where such a 
relation rests avowedly upon conquest, it is too 
immoral to last long, except in a barbarous state of 
manners. Thus for example we may have acquired 
India by conquest, but we cannot and do not hold it 
for our own pecuniary advantage. We draw no 
tribute from it; it is not to us a profitable invest- 
ment ; we should be ashamed to acknowledge that in 
governing it we in any way sacrificed its interest to 
our own. A fortiori then it is barbaric to apply such 
a theory to colonies, for it is to treat one's own 
countrymen, those with whom we have no concern at 
all except on the ground of kindred, as if they were 
conquered enemies, or rather in a way in which a 
civilised nation cannot treat even conquered enemies. 
And probably even in the old colonial system such a 
theory was not consciously and deliberately adopted* 
But since in the sixteenth century there was no 


scruple in applying it to conquered dependencies, and 
since the colonies of Spain were in a certain sense 
conquered dependencies, we can understand that 
unconsciously, unintentionally, the barbaric principle 
crept into her colonial system, and that it lurked 
there and poisoned it in later times. We can 
understand too how the example of Spain and the 
precedents set by her influenced the other European 
States, Holland, France, and England, which entered 
upon the career of colonisation a century later. 

In the case of some of these States, for example 
France, the result of this theory was that the 
mother-country exercised an iron authority over her 
colonies. In Canada the French settlers were subject 
to a multitude of rigid regulations, from which they 
would have been free if they had remained in France. 
Nothing of the kind certainly can be said of the 
English colonies. They were subject to certain fixed 
restrictions in the matter of trade, but apart from 
these they were absolutely free. Carrying their 
nationality with them, they claimed everywhere the 
rights of Englishmen. It has been observed by 
Mr. Merivale that the old colonial system admitted 
no such thing as the modern Crown Colony, in 
which Englishmen are governed administratively 
without representative assemblies. In the old 
system assemblies were not formally instituted, but 
grew up of themselves, because it was the nature of 
Englishmen to assemble. Thus the old historian of 
the colonies, Hutchinson, writes under the year 
1619, "This year a House of Burgesses broke out ID 


Virginia." And assuredly the Home Government in 
those times did not sin by too much interference. 
So completely were the colonies left to themselves, 
that some of them, especially those of New England, 
were from the very beginning for most practical 
purposes independent States. As early as 1665, only 
forty years after the first settlement and a hundred 
years before the Declaration of Independence, I find 
that Massachusetts did not regard itself as practically 
subject to England. " They say," writes a Com- 
missioner, 1 "that so long as they pay the fifth of 
all gold and silver, according to the terms of the 
Charter, they are not obliged to the King but by 

Thus our old colonial system was not practically 
at all tyrannous, and when the breach came the 
grievances of which the Americans complained, 
though perfectly real, were smaller than ever before 
or since led to such mighty consequences. The 
misfortune of that system was not that it interfered 
too much, but that such interference as it admitted 
was of an invidious kind. It claimed very little, 
but what it did claim was unjust. It gave un- 
bounded liberty except in one department, namely 
trade, and in that department it interfered to fine 
the colonists for the benefit of the home traders. 

1 Calendar of State Papers ; Colonial, December, 1665. He 
adds : " They say they can easily spin out seven years by writing, 
and before that time a change may come : nay, some have dared to 
say, Who knows what the event of this Dutch war may be ? They 
furnished Cromwell with many instruments out of their corporation 
and college, and solicited him by one Mr. Winsloe to be declared a 
Free State, and now style and believe themselves to be so." 


Now this was to put the mother-country in a false 
position. It put her forward as claiming to treat the 
colonies as a possession, as an estate to be worked 
for the benefit of those Englishmen who remained at 
home. No claim could be more invidious. If it was 
not quite the claim that a master makes upon a slave, 
it was at least similar to that which an absentee 
landlord makes upon tenants in whom he takes no 
further interest, and yet even the absentee landlord, 
if he gives nothing else, does at least give the use 
of land which was really his own. But what a 
Massachusetts colonist might say has England given 
to us that she should have this perpetual mortgage 
on our industry 1 The Charter of James I. allowed 
us the use of lands which James I. never saw and 
which did not belong to him, lands too which, with- 
out any Charter, we might perhaps have occupied for 
ourselves without opposition. 

Thus this old system was an irrational jumble of 
two opposite conceptions. It claimed to rule the 
colonists because they were Englishmen and brothers, 
and yet it ruled them as if they were conquered 
Indians. And again while it treated them as con- 
quered people, it gave them so much liberty that 
they could easily rebel. 

I have shown how this strange hybrid conception 
of colonies may have originally sprung up. It is not 
very difficult perhaps to understand how the English, 
after once adopting, may have retained it, and may 
have never seen their way to a better conception. 
In the then condition of the world, if the English had 


thought of reforming their colonial system, their 
most natural course would have been to cast off the 
colonies altogether. For the analogy of grown-up 
sons and daughters applies very properly to the case 
of colonies, when they are so remote from the mother- 
country that they have come to have wholly different 
interests. All practical union, and therefore all 
authority on the part of the mother-country, fall 
into abeyance in these circumstances, and the Greek 
system is then most appropriate, which gives complete 
independence to the colony, but binds it in per- 
petual alliance. Now in the seventeenth century our 
colonies were, at least in ordinary times, practically 
too remote for union. This is so true that the 
difficulty is rather to understand how the secession of 
New England can have been delayed so long ; but I 
imagine the retarding cause was the growth of the 
French Power in North America towards the end 
of the seventeenth century. After the great colonial 
struggle of France and England had fairly begun, 
the colonies were drawn somewhat nearer to us than 
before, and we can imagine that if Canada had not 
been conquered from the French in 1759, and if the 
struggle with France instead of coming to an end 
had grown more intense, the colonies would have 
issued no Declaration of Independence, and our 
connection with them might have been put on a 
better footing instead of being dissolved. As it 
was, the need of union was at first riot felt; it was 
then felt strongly for a time, and then by a sudden 
deliverance all pressure was removed, so that the 


thought of a reformed colonial system gave way at 
once to the dream of independence. 

In these circumstances the old colonial system 
would naturally be retained as long as possible by 
the mother-country, because it was dangerous to 
touch it, because the least alteration would snap the 
tie that held the colonies altogether. The invidious 
rights were doggedly maintained simply because 
they existed, and because no alteration for the better 
was thought possible. 

Probably also no healthier relation could then be 
even clearly conceived. I have described colonies 
as the natural outlet for superfluous population, the 
resource by which those who find themselves crowded 
out of the mother-country may live at ease, without 
sacrificing what ought to be felt as most valuable, 
their nationality. But how could such a view occur 
to Englishmen a century ago? England in those 
days was not over -peopled. The whole of Great 
Britain had perhaps not more than twelve million 
inhabitants at the time of the American War. And 
if even then there was more diffused prosperity in 
the colonies than at home, on the other hand the love 
of native soil, the dominion of habit, the dread and 
dislike of migration, were infinitely greater. We are 
not to suppose that the steady stream of emigration 
to the New World, which we witness, has been 
flowing ever since there was a New World, or even 
ever since we had prosperous colonies. This move- 
ment did not begin till after the peace of 1815. 
Under the old colonial system circumstances were 




quite different, and may be illustrated by what we 
know of the history of the New England colonies. 
Of these we learn that from their commencement in 
1620 for twenty years, until the meeting of the Long 
Parliament, immigration did indeed flow in a steady 
stream, but for a quite special reason, viz. because 
the Anglican Church was then harsh, and New Eng- 
land afforded a refuge for Puritanism and Brownism 
or Independency. Accordingly we are told that as 
soon as the Long Parliament met this stream ceased 
to flow, and that afterwards for a hundred years there 
was so little immigration into New England from 
Old England that it was believed not to balance the 
counter-movement of colonists quitting the colony. 1 
These were circumstances in which, though there 
might be colonies, there could be no Greater Britain. 
The material basis of a Greater Britain might indeed 
be laid that is, vast territories might be occupied, 
and rival nations might be expelled from them. In 
this material sense Greater Britain was created in the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But the idea 
that could shape the material mass was still wanting. 
Towards this only one step was taken, namely, in 
laying down the principle that colonies did in some 

1 "The accessions which New England henceforward (i.e. after 
1640) received from abroad were more than counterbalanced by 
perpetual emigrations, which in the course of two centuries have 
scattered her sons over every part of North America and indeed of 
the globe. The immigrants of the preceding period had not 
exceeded twenty-five thousand, a primitive stock, from which has 
been derived not less perhaps than a fourth part of the present 
population of the United States." Hildreth, Hist, of U. S. 
I p. 267. 


way belong together with the mother-country, that 
England did in some sense go with them across the 
sea, and that they could not cease to be English but 
through a war. 

And what is true of the English colonies in the 
eighteenth century is equally true of the colonies 
of other States. Greater Spain, Greater Portugal, 
Greater Holland, and Greater France, were all, as 
much as Greater Britain, artificial fabrics, wanting 
organic unity and life. 

Consequently they were all short - lived, and 
Greater Britain itself appeared likely to be short-lived. 
It seemed indeed likely to be more short-lived than 
many of its rivals. The Spanish colonies in America, 
which had been founded a hundred years before the 
English, did not break off so soon. The Declaration 
of Independence of 1776 was not only the most 
striking but also the first act of rebellion on the part 
of colonies against mother-countries. 

Nor did Greater Britain ultimately escape this 
danger by any wisdom in its rulers. When the utter 
weakness of the old colonial system had been ex- 
posed, we did not abandon it and take up a better. 
A new Empire gradually grew up out of the same 
causes which had called into existence the old, and it 
grew up under much the same system. We had not 
learnt from experience wisdom, but only despair. 
We saw that under that system we could not per- 
manently keep our colonies, but, instead of inferring 
that the system must be changed, we only inferred 
that sooner or later the colonies must be lost. 


Then came, in the forties of this century, the 
victory of free-trade. Among other restraints upon 
trade it condemned in toto the old colonial system. 
This system was abolished, but at the same time the 
opinion grew up that our colonies were useless, and 
that the sooner they were emancipated the better. 
And this doctrine would have been obviously sound, 
if the general conditions of the world had remained 
the same in the nineteenth century as they were in 
the eighteenth and seventeenth. Our forefathers had 
found that they could make no use of colonies except 
by extracting trade -ad vantages from them. What 
then could remain to the mother-country, when her 
monopoly was resigned ? 

There followed a quiet period, in which the very 
slender tie which held the Empire together suffered 
no strain. In these favourable circumstances the 
natural bond was strong enough to prevent a catas- 
trophe. Englishmen in all parts of the world still 
remembered that they were of one blood and one 
religion, that they had one history and one language 
and literature. This was enough, so long as neither 
colonies nor mother-country were called upon to make 
very heavy sacrifices each for the other. Such a 
quiet time favours the growth of a wholly different 
view of the Empire. This view is founded upon the 
consideration that distance has now no longer the 
important influence that it had on political relations. 

In the last century there could be no Greater 
Britain in the true sense of the word, because of the 
distance between the mother-country and its colonies 


and between the colonies themselves. This impedi- 
ment exists no longer. Science has given to the 
political organism a new circulation, which is steam, 
and a new nervous system, which is electricity. 
These new conditions make it necessary to reconsider 
the whole colonial problem. They make it in the 
first place possible actually to realise the old Utopia 
of a Greater Britain, and at the same time they 
make it almost necessary to do so. First they make 
it possible. In the old time such large political 
organisms were only stable when they were of low 
type. Thus Greater Spain was longer -lived than 
Greater Britain, precisely because it was despotically 
governed. Greater Britain ran on the rock of 
parliamentary liberties, which were then impossible 
on so great a scale, while despotism was possible 
enough. Had it then been thought possible to give 
parliamentary representation to our colonists, the 
whole quarrel might easily have been avoided. But 
it was not thought possible ; and why 1 Burke gives 
you the answer in the well-known passage, in which 
he throws ridicule upon the notion of summoning 
representatives from so vast a distance. This notion 
has now ceased at any rate to be ridiculous, however 
great the difficulties of detail may still be. Those 
very colonies, which then broke off from us, have 
since given the example of a federal organisation, in 
which vast territories, some of them thinly peopled 
and newly settled, are held easily in union with older 
communities, and the whole enjoys in the fullest 
degree parliamentary freedom. The United States 


have solved a problem substantially similar to that 
which our old colonial system could not solve, by 
showing how a State may throw off a constant stream 
of emigration, how from a fringe of settlement on the 
Atlantic a whole Continent as far as the Pacific may 
be peopled, and yet the doubt never arise whether 
those remote settlements will not soon claim their 
independence, or whether they will bear to be taxed 
for the benefit of the whole. 

And lastly what is thus shown to be possible 
appears now to be much more urgently important 
than in the last century. For the same inventions 
which make vast political unions possible, tend to 
make states which are on the old scale of magnitude 
unsafe, insignificant, second-rate. If the United States 
and Kussia hold together for another half century, 
they will at the end of that time completely dwarf 
such old European States as France and Germany, 
and depress them into a second class. They will do 
the same to England, if at the end of that time 
England still thinks of herself as simply a European 
State, as the old United Kingdom of Great Britain 
and Ireland, such as Pitt left her. It would indeed 
be a poor remedy, if we should try to face these vast 
states of the new type by an artificial union of settle- 
ments and islands scattered over the whole globe, 
inhabited by different nationalities, and connected by 
no tie except the accident that they happen all alike 
to acknowledge the Queen's authority. But I have 
pointed out that what we call our Empire is no such 
artificial fabric ; that it is not properly, if we exclude 


India from consideration, an Empire at all ; that it 
is a vast English nation, only a nation so widely 
dispersed that before the age of steam and electricity 
its strong natural bonds of race and religion seemed 
practically dissolved by distance. As soon then as 
distance is abolished by science, as soon as it is proved 
by the examples of the United States and Russia 
that political union over vast areas has begun to be 
possible, so soon Greater Britain starts up, not only 
a reality, but a robust reality. It will belong to the 
stronger class of political unions. If it will not be 
stronger than the United States, we may say with 
confidence that it will be far stronger than the great 
conglomeration of Slavs, Germans, Turcomans and 
Armenians, of Greek Christians, Catholics, Protestants. 
Mussulmans and Buddhists, which we call Russia. 



IN a former lecture I pointed out how much unity is 
given to the history of England in the eighteenth 
century, how all the great wars of that time are 
shown to belong together and fall into a connected 
series, if you remark the single fact that Greater 
Britain during that period was establishing itself in 
opposition to Greater France. And I have since 
proceeded further in the same train of reflection, by 
remarking that during the eighteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries it is not England and France only 
that have great colonies, but Spain, Portugal, and 
Holland also. You will, I think, find it very helpful 
in studying the history of those two centuries, 
always to bear in mind that throughout most of that 
period the five states of Western Europe all alike are 
not properly European states but world-states, and 
that they debate continually among themselves a 
mighty question, which is not European at all, and 
which the student with his eye fixed on Europe is 


too apt to disregard, namely, the question of the 
possession of the New World. 

This obvious fact, sufficiently borne in mind, gives 
much unity to the political history of those nations, 
and reduces to a simple formula most of their wars 
and alliances. But I now proceed to show, especially 
with respect to England, that the European States 
were greatly modified, not only in their mutual 
dealings with each other, but internally in the nature 
of each community, by their connection with the 
New World. It will be found that the modern 
character of England, as it has come to be since the 
Middle Ages, may also be most briefly described on 
the whole by saying that England has been expand- 
ing into Greater Britain. 

Two great events happened within thirty years of 
each other, the discovery of the New World and the 
Reformation. These two events closely involved 
with two others, viz. the consolidation of the great 
European States and the closing of the East by the 
Turkish Conquest, caused the vast change which we 
know as the close of the Middle Ages and the opening 
of the modern period. But of the two leading 
events the one was of far more rapid operation than 
the other. The Reformation produced its effect at 
once and in the very front of the stage of history. 
For more than half a century the historical student 
finds himself mainly concerned with the struggle 
between the Habsburg House and the Reformation, 
first in Germany, where it is assisted by France, 
then in the Low Countries, where it is helped, 




sometimes by France, sometimes by England. Mean- 
while the occupation of the New World is going on 
in the background, and does not force itself upon the 
attention of the student who is contemplating Europe. 
The achievements of Cortez and Pizarro do not seem 
to have any reaction upon the European struggle. 
And perhaps it is not till near the end of the six- 
teenth century, when the raids of Francis Drake and 
his fellows upon the Spanish settlements in Central 
America mainly contributed to decide Spain to her 
great enterprise against England, perhaps it is not 
till the time of the Spanish Armada, that the New 
World begins in any perceptible degree to react 
upon the Old. 

But from this time forward European affairs begin 
to be controlled by two great causes at once, viz. 
the Reformation and the New World, and of these 
the Reformation acts with diminishing force, and the 
New World has more and more influence. It is 
characteristic of the seventeenth century that these 
two causes act throughout it in combination. This 
is illustrated, as I mentioned above, by Cromwell's 
policy of war against Spain, which is double-faced 
and, while it seems to be a blow of Protestantism 
against Catholicism, is really a stroke for territory in 
the New World, so that it results in the conquest of 
Jamaica. It is illustrated too by the alliance of 
France and England against Holland in 1672, when 
one Protestant Power assails another with the pointed 
approbation of the Cromwellian statesman Shaftes- 
bury, because they have rival interests in the New 


World. But by the end of that century the Eeform- 
ation as a force in politics has declined, and in the 
eighteenth century the ruling influence is throughout 
the New World. This is what gives to that century 
the prosaic commercial character which distinguishes 
it. The religious question with all its grandeur has 
sunk to rest, and the colonial question, made up of 
worldly and material considerations, has taken its 

Now the New World, considered as a boundless 
territory open to settlement, would act in two ways 
upon the nations of Europe. In the first place it 
would have a purely political effect that is, it would 
act upon their Governments. For so much debatable 
territory would be a standing cause of war. It is 
this action of the New World that we have been 
considering hitherto, while we have observed how 
mainly the wars of the eighteenth century, and 
particularly the great wars of England and France, 
were kindled by this cause. But the New World 
would also act upon the European communities 
themselves, modifying their occupations and ways of 
life, altering their industrial and economical char- 
acter. Thus the expansion of England involves its 

England is now pre-eminently a maritime, colonising 
and industrial country. It seems to be the prevalent 
opinion that England always was so, and from the 
nature of her people can never be otherwise. In 
Riickert's poem the deity that visited the same spot 
of earth at intervals of five hundred years, and found 


there now a forest, now a city, now & sea, when- 
ever he asked after the origin of what he saw, 
received for answer, "It has always been so, and 
always will be." This unhistorical way of thinking, 
this disposition to ascribe an inherent necessity to 
whatever we are accustomed to, betrays itself in 
much that is said about the genius of the Anglo- 
Saxon race. That we might have been other than 
we are, nay, that we once were other, is to us so 
inconceivable that we try to explain why we were 
always the same, before ascertaining by any inquiry 
whether the fact is so. It seems to us clear that 
we are the great wandering, working, colonising 
race, descended from sea-rovers and Vikings. The 
sea, we think, is ours by nature's decree, and on 
this highway we travel to subdue the earth and to 
people it. 

And yet in fact it was only in the Elizabethan age 
that England began to discover her vocation to trade 
and to the dominion of the sea. 

Our insular position, and the fact that our island 
towards the West and North looks right out upon 
the Atlantic Ocean, may lead us to fancy that the 
nation must always have been maritime by the 
necessity of the case. We entered the island in 
ships, and afterwards we were conquered by a nation 
of sea-rovers. But after all England is not a Norway ; 
it is not a country which has only narrow strips of 
cultivable land, and therefore forces its population 
to look to the sea for their subsistence. England in 
the time of the Plantagenets was no mistress of the 


seas ; in fact she was scarcely a maritime state at all. 
Occasionally in war-time we find medieval England 
in possession of a considerable navy. But as soon as 
peace arrives the navy dwindles away again. The 
constant complaints of piracy in the Channel show 
how little control England was able to exercise even 
over her own seas. It has been justly remarked 
that, as the Middle Ages know of no standing army, 
so, excepting the case of some Italian city-states, 
they know of no standing fleet. Over and over 
again in those times this decay of the navy recurs. 
Then when a new war broke out, the Government 
would issue a general license to all merchant-ships to 
act as privateers, and the merchant-ships would 
respond to it by becoming not merely privateers but 
pirates. In fact, though under the Plantagenets the 
English nation was more warlike in spirit than it has 
been since, yet it is observable that in those days its 
ambition was directed much more to fighting by land 
than by sea. The glories of the English army of 
those days greatly eclipse those of the English navy ; 
we remember the victories of Cre'cy and Poitiers, 
but we have forgotten that of Sluys. 

The truth is that the maritime greatness of 
England is of much more modern growth than most 
of us imagine. It dates from the civil wars of the 
seventeenth century and from the career of Robert 
Blake. Blake's pursuit of Prince Rupert through the 
Straits of Gibraltar up the eastern coast of Spain is 
said to have been the first appearance of an English 
fleet in the Mediterranean after the time of the 


Crusades. There are no doubt naval heroes older 
than Blake. There is Francis Drake, and Richard 
Grenville, and John Hawkins. But the navy of 
Elizabeth was only the English navy in infancy, and 
the heroes themselves are not far removed from 
buccaneers. Before the Tudor period we find only 
the embryo of a navy. In the fifteenth century 
English naval history, except during the short reign 
of Henry V., shows only feebleness ; before that too 
feebleness is the rule and efficiency the exception, 
until we arrive at the reign of Edward I., who was 
the first to conceive even the idea of a standing 

And not in maritime war only but in maritime 
discovery, in maritime activity of all kinds, the great- 
ness of England is modern. In the great unrivalled 
explorations of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries 
we did no doubt something, but we had no pretension 
whatever to take the lead. It is true that we made 
a promising commencement. A ship from Bristol 
was absolutely the first to touch the American 
Continent, so that there were English sailors who 
saw America proper a year or so before Columbus 
himself. At that moment we seemed likely to rival 
Spain, for if the commander Cabot l was no English- 
man, neither was Columbus a Spaniard. But we fell 
behind again ; Henry VII. was unwisely parsimonious, 

1 John Cabot was an Italian, by citizenship a Venetian ; but if 
his son Sebastian was born after the father settled in Bristol, and 
if the son, not the father, commanded the ship, the whole achieve- 
ment might be made out to be English. The evidence howevei 
points the other way. See the discussion in Hellwald, Sebastian 


Henry VIII. was caught in the vortex of the 
Reformation. In the first generation of great 
discoverers there is no English name. Frobisher, 
Chancellor and Francis Drake did not appear on 
the Ocean till Columbus had lain for half a 
century in his grave. Among nations of maritime 
renown whether in war, discovery or colonisation, 
before the time of the Spanish Armada England 
could not pretend to take any high rank. Spain 
had carried off the prize, less by merit than by 
the good fortune which sent her Columbus, but the 
nation which had really deserved it was beyond dis- 
pute Portugal, which indeed had almost reason to 
complain of the glorious intrusion of Columbus. 
Even against him she might urge that, if the object 
was to find the Indies, she took the right way and 
found them, while he took the wrong way and 
missed them. 1 After these nations, and in quite a 
lower class, might be placed England and France, and 
I do not know that England would have a right to 
stand before France. This is somewhat disguised in 
our histories owing to the natural desire of the 
historians to make the most of our actual achieve- 
ments. In later times, after our maritime supremacy 
had once begun, we should be surprised at any nation 
competing with us for the first place, whereas we are 
content to appear as spirited aspirants venturing to 

1 Even if it were answered in his behalf that it is better to be 
wrong and find America than to be right and find India, Portugal 
might answer that she did both, since in the second voyage made 
from Lisbon to India she discovered Brazil, only eight years after 
the first voyage of Columbus, and would undoubtedly have 
discovered it, if Columbus had never been born. 


contest the pre-eminence of Spain after she has 
enjoyed it for the best part of a century. And even 
at the end of the sixteenth century, when a large 
part of the American Continent has been carved out 
in Spanish vice-royalties, and Portugal has sent out 
governors to rule in the Indian Ocean, when Spanish 
missionaries have visited Japan, when the great poet 
of Portugal has led a literary career for sixteen years 
and written an epic poem in regions which to former 
poets had seemed fabulous, even as late as this the 
English are quite beginners in the maritime career, 
and have as yet no settlements. 

But from naval affairs let us turn to manufactures 
and commerce. Here again we shall find that it is 
not a natural vocation, founded upon inherent 
aptitudes, that has given us our success in these 
pursuits. In manufactures our success depends 
upon our peculiar relation to the great producing 
countries of the globe. The vast harvests of the 
world are reaped in countries where land is wide and 
population generally thin. But those countries 
cannot manufacture their own raw materials, because 
all hands are engaged in producing and there is no 
surplus population to be employed in manufacture. 
The cotton of America and wool of Australia therefore 
come to England, where not only such a surplus 
population exists, but where also the great standing 
instrument of manufacture, coal, is found in abund- 
ance and near the coast. Now all this is modern, 
most of it very modern. The reign of coal began 
with machinery, that is, in the latter half of the 


eighteenth century. The vast tracts of production 
were not heard of till the New World had been laid 
open, and could not be used freely till two centuries 
and a half later, when railways were introduced. 
Evidently therefore the basis of our manufacturing 
greatness could not be laid till very recent times. 
The England of the Plantagenets occupied a wholly 
different economical position. Manufactures were 
not indeed wanting, but the nation was as yet so far 
from being remarked for its restless industry and 
practical talent, that a description written in the 
fifteenth century says that the English, "being 
seldom fatigued with hard labour, lead a life more 
spiritual and refined" l In the main England at that 
time subsisted upon its lucrative intercourse (magnus 
intercursus) with Flanders. She produced the wool 
which was manufactured there ; she was to Flanders 
what Australia is now to the West Riding. London 
was as Sydney, Ghent and Bruges were as Leeds and 

This continued in the main to be the case till the 
Elizabethan age. But then, about the time that the 
maritime greatness of England was beginning, she 
began also to be a great manufacturing country. For 
the manufactures of Flanders perished in the great 
catastrophe of the religious war of the Low Countries 
with Spain. Flemish manufacturers swarmed over 

1 Fortescue, quoted by Mr. Cunningham, Growth of English 
Industry and Commerce^ p. 217. Besides being indolent and 
contemplative, the Englishman of the fifteenth century was pre- 
eminent in urbanity and totally devoid of domestic affection ! Sec 
Gairdner's Paston Letters, vol. iii. Intr. p. Ixiii. 


into England, and gave a new life to the industry 
which had long had its centre at Norwich. There 
began what may be called the Norwich period of our 
manufacturing history, which lasted through the 
whole seventeenth century. The peculiarity of it 
was that in this period England manufactured her 
own product, wool Instead of being mainly a pro- 
ducing country as before, or mainly a manufacturing 
country as now, she was a country manufacturing 
what she herself produced. 

So much for manufactures. But the present in- 
dustrial greatness of England is composed only in 
part of her greatness in manufacture. She has also 
the carrying trade of the world, and is therefore its 
exchange and business - centre. Now this carrying 
trade has come to her as the great maritime country ; 
it is therefore superfluous to remark that she had it 
not in the Middle Ages, when she had not yet 
become a maritime country. Indeed in those times a 
carrying trade can hardly be spoken of. It implies 
a great sea-traffic, and a great sea-traffic did not begin 
till the New World was thrown open. Before that 
event business had its centre in the central countries 
of Europe, in Italy and the Imperial Cities of 
Germany. The great business men of the fifteenth 
century were the Medici of Florence, the Fuggers of 
Augsburg, the founders of the Bank of St. George at 

In the Middle Ages England was, from the point 
of view of business, not an advanced, but on the 
whole a backward country. She must have been 


despised in the chief commercial countries; as now 
she herself looks upon the business-system and the 
banking of countries like Germany and even France 
as old-fashioned compared to her own, so in the 
Middle Ages the Italians must have looked upon 
England. With their city-life, wide business-con- 
nections and acuteness in affairs, they must have 
classed England, along with France, among the old- 
world, agricultural, and feudal countries, which lay 
outside the main-current of the ideas of the time. 

Nor when the great change took place, which left 
Italy and Germany in their turn stranded, and turned 
the whole course of business into another channel, 
are we to suppose that England stepped at once into 
their place. Their successor was Holland. Through 
a great part of the seventeenth century the carrying 
trade of the world was in the hands of the Dutch, 
and Amsterdam was the exchange of the world. It 
is against this Dutch monopoly that England struggles 
in Cromwell's time and in the earlier part of the 
reign of Charles II. Not till late in that century 
does Holland begin to show signs of defeat. Not 
till then does England decidedly take the lead in 

And thus, if we put together all the items, we 
arrive at the conclusion that the England we know, 
the supreme maritime commercial and industrial 
Power, is quite of modern growth, that it did not 
clearly exhibit its principal features till the eighteenth 
century, and that the seventeenth century is the 
period when it was gradually assuming this form. 


If we ask when it began to do so, the answer is 
particularly easy and distinct. It was in the Eliza- 
bethan Age. 

Now this was the time when the New World 
began to exert its influence, and thus the most 
obvious facts suggest that England owes its modern 
character and its peculiar greatness from the outset 
to the New World. It is not the blood of the Vikings 
that makes us rulers of the sea, nor the industrial 
genius of the Anglo-Saxon that makes us great in 
manufactures and commerce, but a much more special 
circumstance, which did not arise till for many 
centuries we had been agricultural or pastoral, war- 
like, and indifferent to the sea. 

In the school of Carl Eitter much has been said l 
of three stages of civilisation determined by geograph- 
ical conditions, the potamic, which clings to rivers, the 
thcdassic, which grows up around inland seas, and 
lastly the oceanic. This theory looks as if it had been 
suggested by the change which followed the discovery 
of the New World, when indeed European civilisation 
passed from the thalassic to the oceanic stage. Till 
then trade had clung to the Mediterranean Sea. Till 
then the Ocean had been a limit, a boundary, not a 
pathway. There had been indeed a certain amount 
of intercourse across the narrow seas of the North, 
which had nourished the trade of the Hanseatic 
League. But in the main the Mediterranean con- 
tinued to be the headquarters of industry as of 
civilisation, and the Middle Age moved so far in the 
1 See Peschel, Abhandlungen vur Erd-und Volkerlcunde, p. 398. 


groove of the ancient world that Italy in both seemed 
to have a natural superiority over the countries on 
this side of the Alps. France and England had no 
doubt advanced greatly, but to the Italian in the 
fifteenth century they still seemed comparatively 
barbarous, intellectually provincial and second-rate. 
The reason of this was that for practical purposes 
they were inland, while Italy reaped the benefit of 
the civilising sea. The greatness of Florence rested 
upon woollen manufactures, that of Venice, Pisa and 
Genoa upon foreign trade and dependencies, and all 
this at a time when France and England comparatively 
were given up to feudalism and rusticity. By the 
side of the Italian republics, France and England 
showed like Thessaly and Macedonia in comparison 
with Athens and Corinth. 

Now Columbus and the Portuguese altered all this 
by substituting the Atlantic Ocean for the Mediter- 
ranean Sea as the highway of commerce. From 
that moment the reign of Italy is over. The relation 
of cause and effect is here in some degree concealed 
by the misfortunes which happened to Italy at the 
same time. The political fall of Italy happened 
accidentally just at the same moment. The foreigner 
crossed the Alps ; Italy became a battlefield in the 
great struggle of France and Spain; she was con- 
quered, partitioned, enslaved ; and her glory never 
revived afterwards. Such a catastrophe and its 
obvious cause, foreign invasion, blinds us to all minor 
influences, which might have been working to produce 
the same effect at the same time. But assuredly, had 


no foreign invasion taken place, Italy would just then 
have entered on a period of decline. The hidden 
source which fed her energy and glory was dried up 
by the discovery of the New World. She might be 
compared to one of those seaports on the coast of 
Kent from which the sea has receded. Where there 
had once been life and movement, silence and vacancy 
must have set in throughout the great city republics 
of Italy, even if no stranger had crossed the Alps. 
The Mediterranean Sea had not indeed receded, but 
it had lost once for all the character which it had 
had almost from the days of the Odyssey. It had 
ceased to be the central sea of human intercourse and 
civilisation, the chief, nay, almost the one sea of 
history. It so happened that, soon after commerce 
began to cover the Atlantic, it was swept out of the 
Mediterranean by the besom of the Turkish sea-power 
Thus Ranke remarks that the trade of Barcelona 
seemed to be little affected by the new discoveries, 
but that it sank rapidly from about 1529, in conse- 
quence of the maritime predominance of the Turks 
caused by the successes of Barbarossa, the league of 
France with Solyman, and the foundation of the 
Barbary States. So clearly had the providential 
edict gone forth that European civilisation should 
cease to be thalassic and should become oceanic. 

The great result was that the centre of movement 
and intelligence began to pass from the centre of 
Europe to its Western Coast. Civilisation moves 
away from Italy and Germany ; where it will settle 
is not yet clear, but certainly farther west. See how 


strikingly this change stands out from the history 
of the sixteenth century. At the beginning of that 
century all the genius in the world seems to live in 
Italy or Germany. The golden age of modern art is 
passing in the first country, but if there are any rivals 
to the Italian painters they are German, and Michael 
Angelo is obliged at least to reason with those who 
prefer the maniera tedesca. Meanwhile the Reforma- 
tion belongs to Germany. For France and England 
in those days it seems sufficient glory to have given a 
welcome to the Renaissance and to the Reformation. 
But gradually in the latter part of the sixteenth 
century we become aware that civilisation is shifting 
its headquarters. Italy and Germany are first 
rivalled and then eclipsed ; gradually we grow accus- 
tomed to the thought that great things are rather to 
be looked for in other countries. In the seven- 
teenth century almost all genius and greatness is 
to be found in the western or maritime states of 

Now these are the states which were engaged in 
the struggle for the New World. Spain, Portugal, 
France, Holland and England have the same sort of 
position with respect to the Atlantic Ocean that 
Greece and Italy had in antiquity with respect to the 
Mediterranean. And they begin to show a similar 
superiority in intelligence. Vast problems of conquest, 
colonisation and commerce occupy their minds, which 
before had vegetated in a rustic monotony. I have 
already shown you at length what an effect this 
change had upon the English nation. The effect 


produced upon the Dutch was quite as striking and 
much more rapid. The Golden Age of Holland is 
the first half of the seventeenth century. Let us 
examine for a moment the causes which produced its 

The Low Countries which revolted against Philip 
IL of Spain were, as you know, not merely the seven 
provinces which afterwards made the Dutch Republic 
and now make the Dutch Monarchy, but those other 
provinces which now make the kingdom of Belgium. 
It was the latter group which at the time of the 
rebellion were most prosperous. They were the 
great manufacturing region, the Lancashire or West 
Biding of the Middle Ages. The former group, the 
Dutch provinces, were then of much less importance. 
They were maritime and chiefly occupied in the 
herring fishery. Now the result of the Rebellion 
was that Spain was able to retain possession of the 
Belgian group, which from this time is known as the 
Spanish Low Countries, but she was not able to hold 
the Dutch group, which, after a war which seemed 
interminable, she was forced to leave to their inde- 
pendence. Now during the struggle the prosperity 
of the Belgian Provinces, as I have pointed out, was 
ruined. The Flemish manufacturers emigrated and 
founded the woollen manufacture of England. But 
the maritime provinces, poorer at the outset, instead 
of being ruined grew rich during the war, and had 
become, before it was ended, the wonder and the 
great commercial state of the world. How was this 1 
It was because they were maritime, and because their 


sea was the highway which led to the New World. 
As they had devoted themselves earlier to the sea, 
they had the start of the English, and their war with 
the Spaniards proved actually an advantage to them, 
because it threw open to their attack all the thinly- 
peopled ill-defended American Empire of Spain. The 
world was astonished to see a petty state with a 
barren soil and insignificant population, not only hold 
its own against the great Spanish Empire, but in the 
midst of this unequal contest found a great colonial 
Empire for itself in both hemispheres. Meanwhile 
the intellectual stimulus, which the sea had begun 
to give to these Western States, was nowhere more 
manifest than in Holland. This same small popula- 
tion took the lead in scholarship as in commerce, 
welcomed Lipsius, Scaliger and Descartes, and pro- 
duced Grotius at the same time as Piet Hein and Van 

This is the most startling single instance of the 
action of the New World. The effects produced in 
Holland were nothing like so momentous as those 
which I have traced in England, for the greatness of 
Holland, wanting a basis sufficiently broad, was short- 
lived, but they were more sudden and more evidently 
referable to this single cause. 

Such then was the effect of the New World on 
the Old. It is visible not merely in the wars and 
alliances of the time, but also in the economic growth 
and transformation of the Western States of Europe. 
Civilisation has often been powerfully promoted by 
some great enterprise in which several generations 


continuously take part. Such was the war of Europe 
and Asia to the ancient Greeks ; such the Crusades 
in the Middle Ages. Such then for the Western 
States of Europe in recent centuries has been the 
struggle for the New World. It is this more than 
anything else which has placed these nations, where 
they never were before, in the van of intellectual pro- 
gress, and especially it is by her success in this field 
that our own country has acquired her peculiar 

I will conclude this lecture with some remarks on 
the large causes which, in the struggle of five states, 
left the final victory in the hands of England. 
Among these five we have seen that Spain and 
Portugal had the start by a whole century, and that 
Holland was in the field before England. Afterwards 
for about a century France and England contended 
for the New World on tolerably equal terms. Yet 
now of all these states England alone remains in 
possession of a great and commanding colonial power. 
Why is this? 

We may observe that Holland and Portugal 
laboured under the disadvantage of too small a basis. 
The decline of Holland had obvious causes, which 
have often been pointed out. For her sufferings in a 
war of eighty years with Spain she found the com- 
pensations I have just described. But when this 
was followed, first by naval wars with England, and 
then by a straggle with France which lasted half a 
century, and she had now England for a rival on 
the seas, she succumbed. At the beginning of the 


eighteenth century she shows symptoms of decay, and 
at the Treaty of Utrecht she lays down her arms, 
victorious indeed, but fatally disabled. 

The Portuguese met with a different misfortune. 
From the outset they had recognised the insufficiency 
of their resources, regretting that they had not been 
content with a less ambitious course of acquisition on 
the northern coast of Africa. In 1580 they suffered 
a blow such as has not fallen on any other of the 
still existing European states. Portugal with all her 
world-wide dependencies and commercial stations fell 
under the yoke of Spain, and underwent a sixty 
years' captivity. In this period her colonial Empire, 
which by becoming Spanish was laid open to the 
attacks of the Dutch, suffered greatly ; Portuguese 
writers accuse Spain of having witnessed their losses 
with pleasure, and of having made a scapegoat of 
Portugal ; certain it is that the discontent which led 
to the insurrection of 1640, and founded a new 
Portugal under the House of Bragan$a, was mainly 
caused by these colonial losses. Yet the insurrection 
itself cost her something more in foreign possessions ; 
she paid the Island of Bombay for the help of 
England. Nor could the second Portugal ever rival 
the first, that nurse of Prince Henry, Bartholomew 
Diaz, Vasco da Gama, Magelhaens and Camoens, 
which has quite a peculiar glory in the history of 

Be it remarked in passing that this passage also of 
the history of the seventeenth century shows us the 
New World reacting on the Old. As the rise of 


Holland, the great occurrence of its first years, so the 
Revolution of Portugal, which occupies the middle of 
it, is caused by the influence of the colonies. 

As to the ill-success of Spain and France, it would 
no doubt be idle to suppose that any one cause will 
fully explain it. But perhaps one large cause may be 
named which in both cases contributed most to pro- 
duce the result. 

Spain lost her colonial Empire only, as it were, the 
other day. Having founded it a century earlier, she 
retained it nearly half a century later than England 
retained her first Empire. Compared to England, 
she has been inferior only in not having continued to 
found new colonies. And this was the effect of that 
strange decay of vitality which overtook Spain in the 
latter half of the sixteenth century. The decline of 
population and the ruin of finance dried up in her 
every power, that of colonisation included. 

No similar decline is observable in France. France 
lost her colonies in a series of unsuccessful wars, and 
perhaps you may think that it is not necessary to 
inquire further, and that the fortune of war explains 
everything. But I think 1 discern that both States 
were guilty of the same error of policy, which in the 
end mainly contributed to their failure. It may be 
said of both that they " had too many irons in the 

There was this fundamental difference between 
Spain and France on the one side and England on 
the other, that Spain and France were deeply involved 
in the struggles of Europe, from which England has 


always been able to hold herself aloof. In fact, as an 
island, England is distinctly nearer for practical pur- 
poses to the New World, and almost belongs to it, or 
at least has the choice of belonging at her pleasure to 
the New World or to the Old. Spain might perhaps 
have had the same choice, but for her conquests in 
Italy and for the fatal marriage which, as it were, 
wedded her to Germany. In that same sixteenth 
century in which she was colonising the New World, 
Spain was merged at home in the complex Spanish 
Empire, which was doomed beforehand to decline, 
because it could never raise a revenue proportioned 
to its responsibilities. It was almost bankrupt when 
Charles V. abdicated, though it could then draw upon 
the splendid prosperity of the Netherlands ; when, 
soon after, it alienated this province, lost the poorer 
half of it and ruined the richer, when it engaged in 
chronic war with France, when after eighty years of 
war with the Dutch it entered upon a quarter of a 
century of war with Portugal, it could not but sink, 
as it did, into bankruptcy and political decrepitude. 
These overwhelming burdens, coupled with a want of 
industrial aptitude in the Spanish people, whose 
temperament had been formed in a permanent war 
of religion, produced the result that the nation to 
which a new world had been given could never 
rightly use or profit by the gift. 

As to France, it is still more manifest that she lost 
the New World because she was always divided 
between a policy of colonial extension and a policy of 
European conquest If we compare together those 


seven great wars between 1688 and 1815, we shall 
be struck with the fact that most of them are double 
wars, that they have one aspect as between England 
and France and another as between France and 
Germany. It is the double policy of France that 
causes this, and it is France that suffers by it 
England has for the most part a single object and 
wages a single war, but France wages two wars at 
once for two distinct objects. When Chatham said 
he would conquer America in Germany, he indicated 
that he saw the mistake which France committed by 
dividing her forces, and that he saw how, by subsidis- 
ing Frederick, to make France exhaust herself in 
Germany, while her possessions in America passed 
defenceless into our hands. Napoleon in like manner 
is distracted between the New World and the Old. 
He would humble England; he would repair the 
colonial and Indian losses of his country. But he 
finds himself conquering Germany and at last invad- 
ing Russia. His comfort is that through Germany he 
can strike at English trade, and through Russia 
perhaps make his way to India. 

England has not been thus distracted between two 
objects. Connected but slightly with the European 
system since she evacuated France in the fifteenth 
century, she has not since then lived in chronic war 
with her neighbours. She has not hankered after 
the Imperial Crown or guaranteed the Treaty of 
Westphalia. When Napoleon by his Continental 
System shut her out from Europe, she showed that 
she could do without Europe. Hence her hands have 


always been free, while trade of itself inevitably 
drew her thoughts in the direction of the New World. 
In the long run this advantage has been decisive. 
She has not had to maintain a European Ascendency, 
as Spain and France have had ; on the other hand 
she has not had to withstand such an Ascendency 
by mortal conflict within her own territory, as 
Holland and Portugal, and Spain also, have been 
forced to do. Hence nothing has interrupted her or 
interfered with her, to draw her off from the quiet 
progress of her colonial settlements. In one word, 
out of the five states which competed for the New 
World success has fallen to that one not which 
showed at the outset the strongest vocation for 
colonisation, not which surpassed the others in daring 
or invention or energy but to that one which was 
least hampered by the Old World. 



COMPETITION for the New World between the five 
western maritime States of Europe : this is a formula 
which sums up a great part of the history of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is one of 
those generalisations which escape us so long as we 
study history only in single states. 

Much would be gained if the student of history 
would look at modern Europe as he has already the 
habit of looking at ancient Greece. Here he has 
constantly before him three or four different states at 
once Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Argos, not to mention 
Macedonia and Persia, and is led to make most 
instructive comparisons and most useful reflections 
upon large general tendencies. This is entirely 
owing to the accident that Greece was not a State 
but a complex of States, which fact our historians do 
not perceive clearly enough to conclude, as in con- 
sistency they ought, that they ought not to write a 
history of Greece at all, but separate histories of 


Athens, Sparta, etc. Let me ask those of you who 
know Grecian history to apply to these Western 
States the mode of conceiving to which you have 
accustomed yourselves. You have been in the habit 
of thinking of a cluster of States gathered round a 
common sea, which is studded with islands, and 
which has on the other side of it large territories 
imperfectly known and inhabited by strange races. 
You have thought of all these States together, and 
not merely of each by itself ; you have traced the 
general results produced upon the Hellenic world as 
a whole by all the intricate play of interests between 
the several Hellenic city-states. Now the five States 
we have in view Spain, Portugal, France, Holland 
and England were ranged in like manner on the 
North-Eastern shore of the Atlantic Ocean, and had 
in like manner a common interest in what that 
Ocean contained or hid. If the States seem to you 
so large, the Ocean so boundless, and the settlements 
so scattered that you cannot bring them into one 
view, make an effort, bring them into the same map, 
and draw the map on a small scale. But your great 
effort must be to raise your head above the current 
of mere chronological narrative, to apply a fixed 
principle to the selection of facts, grouping them not 
by nearness in time, nor by their personal biographical 
connection, but by the internal affinity of causation. 
This great struggle of five States for the New World 
differs from the struggles of those old Greek States 
in this, that it is not isolated. It was superinduced 
by the discovery of Columbus upon other struggles, 


themselves sufficiently complicated, which were going 
on within the European States; in particular it is 
entangled with the great religious struggle of the 
Kef ormation. Altogether what a tangled web ! Now 
in a case like this what shall science do ? Surely the 
first thing will be to separate and arrange together all 
the effects which can be traced to any one cause. In 
order to do this it must evidently neglect chrono- 
logical order ; it must break the fetters of narrative. 
Following this method, it will see in the sixteenth, 
seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, as I have 
pointed out, two grand causes, each followed by its 
multitude of effects, viz. the Reformation and the 
attraction of the New World; these two grand 
causes it will study separately, tracing each through 
the long series of effects produced by it, and then 
perhaps, but not till then, it will consider the mutual 
action of the two causes upon each other. It is our 
business at present to consider separately the effects 
produced on the five Western States by the attraction 
of the New World. 

Now why should the New World have produced 
any further effect upon those States than simply to 
rouse them to a new commercial activity, and perhaps 
more gradually to enlarge their ideas by enlarging 
their knowledge? That it did produce this latter 
effect I explained in the last lecture by pointing out 
how in the course of the sixteenth century the centre 
of civilisation moves from the Mediterranean to the 
neighbourhood of the Atlantic, so that, whereas in 
the earlier years of it the eye turns always to Italy or 


Germany, where the Raphaels and Michael Angelos, 
the Ariostos and Macchiavelli's, the Dtirers and 
Hiittens and Lathers live, at the end of it and in the 
seventeenth century the eye turns just as naturally 
Westward and Northward. We see Cervantes and 
Calderon in Spain, Shakspeare and Spenser and 
Bacon in England ; Scaliger and Lipsius, then Grotius 
arise in Holland, Montaigne and Casaubon in France ; 
the destinies of the world are in the hands of Henry 
IV., Queen Elizabeth, the Prince of Orange ; and, as 
time goes on, we grow more and more accustomed to 
expect everything great in this quarter, and to regard 
Italy and the Mediterranean as out of date. So much 
was natural. The contact of the New World might 
have been expected to produce this effect, for, as we 
have always been accustomed to trace ancient civilisa- 
tion to the influence of the Mediterranean, we are 
prepared to find that the Atlantic, when once it 
becomes a Mediterranean, that is, when once lands 
are laid open on the farther side of it, should pro- 
duce similar effects on a grander scale. But it does 
not at once appear why any further effects should be 
produced. To understand this we must consider the 
peculiar nature of the contact between the New 
World and the Old, and, now that we have looked a 
little into modern colonisation, we are in a condition 
to do so. 

Let us think how the New World might have 
acted on the Old quite otherwise than as it did. 
What if America had been found to be full of power- 
ful and consolidated States like those of Europe? 


Then our relations with it would have been similar to 
our present relations with China or Japan. Our 
advances might have been met with a certain prudery, 
as by China; in that case the result would either 
have been non-intercourse, or some attempt, success- 
ful or otherwise, to force intercourse upon them. Or 
the American States might have proved open-minded 
and liberal like the Japanese ; then there might have 
followed intercourse, exchange of ideas, and mutual 
benefit. But in either case it does not appear that 
important political consequences would have followed, 
for in those days, while communication was so difficult, 
it is not likely that any fusion of the European 
political system with the American system, any 
alliances of European with American States, would 
have taken place. The two worlds would have 
remained aware of each other, yet almost closed to 
each other, in a relation less like that we now see 
between England and China or Japan than that of 
England with the same countries or with India and 
Persia during the seventeenth century. 

Well ! there were no such consolidated States in 
America except in Mexico and Peru, where they were 
overwhelmed in a moment by the Spanish advent- 
urers. Hence the New World had not the power it 
would otherwise have had of keeping the Old at 
arm's length. And the consequence was that there 
began between the Old World and the New an 

Now this by itself ia a great fact. It implies that 
the Atlantic had become, not merely a Mediterranean, 


but something more. To the Greeks the Mediter- 
ranean gave trade, intercourse with foreigners, 
movement and change of ideas, but it did not, unless 
perhaps at a certain time, afford a means of unbounded 
emigration. Emigration there was, but on a scale 
not only inferior, but inferior in proportion. Political 
Powers, some of them exclusive, guarded the opposite 
shore. But even this fact is rather social than 
political. Emigration is in itself only a private 
affair; it does not, as such, concern Governments, 
and though it may produce a great effect upon them, 
as for example the Puritan emigration to New 
England produced no doubt a perceptible effect in 
our civil troubles, yet this effect is only indirect. 

Governments might have shut their eyes to all 
the affairs of the New World. In that case the great 
adventurers would perhaps have set up kingdoms for 
themselves, and the reaction of the New World upon 
the Old would have been confined within narrow limits. 
The Continent of America was so roomy, so thinly 
peopled, that the action of such adventurers, what- 
ever it might have been, would have had no remote 
consequences, and the Governments of Europe might 
have looked on without anxiety. The New World 
would then have exerted as little influence upon the 
Old as, for example, the South American States now 
exert upon Europe. Revolutionary violence may 
rage there, but it rages unheeded, and its effects 
evaporate in the boundless territory peopled by so few 

By considering thus what might have been we arc 


brought to discern the critical point in the course 
which was actually pursued. The New World could 
not but exert a strong influence, but it need not have 
exerted, directly at least, any properly political 
influence upon the Old. It was made into a political 
force of the most tremendous magnitude by the 
interference of the European Governments, by their 
assuming the control of all the States set up by their 
subjects in it. The necessary effect of this policy 
was to transform entirely the politics of Europe, by 
materially altering the interest and position of five 
great European States. I bring this fact into strong 
relief because I think it has been too much over- 
looked, and it is the fundamental fact upon which 
this course of lectures is founded. In one word, 
the New World in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries does not lie outside Europe, but exists 
inside it as a principle of unlimited political change. 
Instead of being an isolated region in which history 
is not yet interested, it is a present influence of the 
utmost importance to which the historian must be 
continually alive an influence which for a long time 
rivalled the Reformation, and from the beginning of 
the eighteenth century surpassed the Reformation, 
in its effect upon the politics of the European States. 
Historians of those centuries have kept in view 
mainly two or perhaps three great movements 
first, the Reformation and its consequences ; secondly, 
the constitutional movement in each country leading 
to liberty in England and to revolution through 
despotism in France. They have also considered the 


great Ascendencies which from time to time have 
arisen in Europe, that of the House of Austria, that of 
the House of Bourbon, and again that of Napoleon. 
These great movements have been, as it were, the 
framework in which they have fitted all particular 
incidents. The framework is insufficient and too 
exclusively European. It furnishes no place for a 
multitude of most important occurrences, and the 
movement which it overlooks is perhaps greater and 
certainly more continuous and durable than any of 
those which it recognises. Each view of Europe 
separately is true. Europe is a great Church and 
Empire breaking up into distinct kingdoms and 
national or voluntary Churches, as those say who fix 
their eyes on the Kef ormation ; it is a group of 
monarchies in which popular freedom has been 
gradually developing itself, as the constitutional 
lawyer says; it is a group of states which balance 
themselves uneasily against each other, liable there- 
fore to be thrown off its equilibrium by the pre- 
ponderance of one of them, as the international 
lawyer says. But all these accounts are incomplete 
and leave almost half the facts unexplained. We 
must add, " It is a group of States, of which the five 
westernmost have been acted upon by a steadfast 
gravitation towards the New World, and have 
dragged in their train great New World Empires." 

I have already applied this observation to the 
eighteenth century, and shown you how it explains 
the perpetual struggles which that century witnessed 
between England and France. These struggles, I am 


persuaded, are treated by historians of the Balance oi 
Power from a point of view much too exclusively 
European. This strikes me particularly in the 
picture they give of the career of Napoleon. They 
see in him simply a ruler who had the ambition to 
undertake the conquest of all Europe, and who had 
the genius almost to succeed in this enterprise. 
Now the main peculiarity of his career is that, though 
he did this, he did not intend it, but something 
different. He intended to make great conquests, 
and he made great conquests, but the conquests he 
made were not those he intended to make. Napoleon 
did not care about Europe. " Cette vieilk Europe 
m'enrwie" he said frankly. His ambition was all 
directed towards the New World. He is the Titan 
whose dream it is to restore that Greater France 
which had fallen in the struggles of the eighteenth 
century, and to overthrow that Greater Britain 
which had been established on its ruins. He makes 
no secret of this ambition, nor does he ever renounce 
it. His conquests in Europe are made, as it were, 
accidentally, and he treats them always as a starting- 
point for a new attack on England. He conquers 
Germany, but why? Because Austria and Russia, 
subsidised by England, march against him while he 
is brooding at Boulogne over the conquest of England. 
When Germany is conquered, what is his first 
thought? That now he has a new weapon against 
England, since he can impose the Continental System 
upon all Europe. Does he occupy Spain and Portu- 
gal ? It is because they are maritime countries with 


fleets and colonies that may be used against England. 
Lastly, when you study such an enterprise as the 
Russian expedition, you are forced to admit, either 
that it had no object, or that it was directed against 
England. But this view escapes most historians, 
because from the outset they have underestimated 
the magnitude of that great historical cause, the 
attraction of the New World upon the Old. To 
them colonies have seemed unimportant, because they 
were distant and thinly peopled, as it were, inert, 
almost lifeless appendages to the parent-states. And 
true it is that the colonies received very little direct 
attention in the headquarters of politics. In London 
or Paris no doubt few people troubled themselves 
with the affairs of Virginia and Louisiana ; there no 
doubt domestic topics absorbed attention, and politics 
seemed centred in the last parliamentary division or 
the last court intrigue. But the eye is caught by 
what is on the surface of things, not by what is at 
the bottom of them; and the hidden cause which 
made Ministers rise and fall, which convulsed Europe 
and led it into war and revolution, was, far more 
than might be supposed, the standing rivalry of 
interests in the New World. 

But if this is so, it ought to be applicable to the 
seventeenth century as well as to the eighteenth. In 
the history of the relation of the New World to the 
Old the three centuries, the sixteenth, seventeenth, 
and eighteenth, have each their marked character. 
The sixteenth century may be called the Spain-and- 
Portugal period. As yet the New World is monopo 


lised by the two nations which discovered it, by the 
country of Vasco da Gama and the adopted country 
of Columbus, until late in the century Spain and 
Portugal become one State in the hands of Philip II. 
In the seventeenth century the other three States, 
France, Holland, and England, enter the colonial 
field. The Dutch take the lead. In the course of 
their war with Spain they get possession of most of 
the Portuguese possessions, which have now become 
Spanish, in the East Indies ; they even succeed for a 
time in annexing Brazil France and England soon 
after establish their colonies m North America. 
From this time then, or almost from this time, we 
may expect to trace that transformation in the 
politics of Europe, which I showed to be the necessary 
consequence of the new position assumed by these 
five States. During the course of this century a 
certain change takes place in the relative colonial 
importance of the five States. Portugal declines ; so 
later does Holland. Spain remains in a condition of 
immobility ; her vast possessions are not lost, but 
additions are no longer made to them, and they 
remain secluded, like China itself, from intercourse 
with the rest of the world. England and France 
have both decidedly advanced ; Colbert has placed 
France in the first rank of commercial countries, and 
she has explored the Mississippi. But the English 
colonies have decidedly the advantage in population. 
And thus it is that the eighteenth century witnesses 
the great duel of France and England for the New 


I exhibited that great duel early in this course, in 
order to show you at once by a conspicuous instance 
that the expansion of England has been neither a 
tranquil process nor yet belonging purely to the most 
recent times : that throughout the eighteenth century 
that expansion was an active principle of disturbance, 
a cause of wars unparalleled both in magnitude and 
number. I could not at that stage go further, but 
now that we have analysed the attraction of the New 
World upon the Old in general and upon England in 
particular, now that we have considered the nature 
and intensity of that attraction, we are in a condition 
to trace further back and even to its beginning the 
expansion of England into Greater Britain. 

It was in the Elizabethan age, as I showed, that 
England first assumed its modern character, and this 
means, as I showed at the same time, that then first 
it began to find itself in the main current of commerce, 
and then first to direct its energies to the sea and to 
the New World. At this point then we mark the 
beginning of the expansion, the first symptom of 
the rise of Greater Britain. The great event which 
announces to the world England's new character and 
the new place which she is assuming in the world, is 
the naval invasion by the Spanish Armada. Here, 
we may say decidedly, begins the modern history of 
England. Compare this event with anything that 
preceded it in English history ; you will see at once 
how new it is. And if you inquire in what precisely 
the novelty consists, you will arrive at this answer, 
that the event is throughout ocecmic. Of course we 


had always been an island; of course our foreign 
wars had always begun at least on the sea. But by 
the sea in earlier times had always been meant the 
strait, the channel, or at most the narrow seas. Now 
for the first time it is different. The whole struggle 
begins, proceeds and ends upon the sea, and it is but 
the last act of a drama which has been played, not 
in the English seas at all, but in the Atlantic, the 
Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico. The invader is the 
master of the New World, the inheritor of the 
legacies of Columbus and Vasco da Gama ; his main 
complaint is that his monopoly of that New World 
has been infringed; and by whom is the invasion 
met ? Not by the Hotspurs of medieval chivalry, nor 
by the archers who won Cre'cy for us, but by a new 
race of men, such as medieval England had not 
known, by the hero - buccaneers, the Drakes and 
Hawkinses, whose lives had been passed in tossing 
upon that Ocean which to their fathers had been an 
unexplored, unprofitable desert. Now for the first 
time might it be said of England what the popular 
song assumes to have been always true of her that 
" her march is on the Ocean wave." 

But there is no Greater Britain as yet ; only the 
impulse has been felt to found one, and the path has 
been explored, which leads to the transatlantic seats 
where the Englishmen of Greater Britain may one 
day live. While Drake and Hawkins have set the 
example of the rough heroism and love of roaming 
which might find the way into the Promised Land, 
Humphrey Gilbert and Walter Raleigh display the 


genius which settles, founds and colonises. In the 
next reign Greater Britain is founded, though neither 
Gilbert nor Raleigh are allowed to enter into it In 
1606 James I. signs the Charter of Virginia, and in 
1620 that of New England. And now very speedily 
the new life with which England is animated, her 
new objects and her new resources, are exhibited so 
as to attract the attention of all Europe. It is in the 
war of King and Parliament, and afterwards in the 
Protectorate, that the new English policy is first ex- 
hibited on a great scale. Under Cromwell England 
appears, but prematurely and on the unsound basis 
of imperialism, such as she definitely became under 
William III. and continued to be throughout the 
eighteenth century, and this is England steadily ex- 
panding into Greater Britain. 

It seems to me to be the principal characteristic 
of this phase of England that she is at once commer- 
cial and warlike. A commonplace is current about 
the natural connection between commerce and peace, 
and hence it has been inferred that the wars of 
modem England are attributable to the influence of 
a feudal aristocracy. Aristocracies, it is said, naturally 
love war, being in their own origin military ; whereas 
the trader just as naturally desires peace, that he 
may practise his trade without interruption. A good 
specimen of the a priori method of reasoning in 
politics ! Why ! how came we to conquer India ? 
Was it not a direct consequence of trading with India ? 
And that is only the most conspicuous illustration of a 
law which prevails throughout English history in the 


seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the law, namely, 
of the intimate interdependence of war and trade, so 
that throughout that period trade leads naturally to 
war and war fosters trade. I have pointed out 
already that the wars of the eighteenth century were 
incomparably greater and more burdensome than 
those of the Middle Ages. In a less degree those of 
the seventeenth century were also great. These are 
precisely the centuries in which England grew more 
and more a commercial country. England indeed 
grew ever more warlike at that time as she grew more 
commercial And it is not difficult to show that a 
cause was at work to make war and commerce increase 
together. This cause is the old colonial system. 

Commerce in itself may favour peace, but when 
commerce is artificially shut out by a decree of 
Government from some promising territory, then 
commerce just as naturally favours war. We know 
this by our own recent experience with China. The 
New "World might have favoured trade without at 
the same time favouring war, if it had consisted of a 
number of liberal-minded States open to intercourse 
with foreigners, or if it had been occupied by Euro- 
pean colonies which pursued an equally liberal 
system. But we now know what the old colonial 
system was. We know that it carved out the New 
World into territories, which were regarded as estates, 
to be enjoyed in each case by the colonising nation. 
The hope of obtaining such splendid estates and 
enjoying the profits that were reaped from them, con- 
stituted the greatest stimulus to commerce that had 


ever been known, and it was a stimulus which acted 
without intermission for centuries. This vast historic 
cause had gradually the effect of bringing to an end 
the old medieval structure of society and introducing 
the industrial ages. But inseparable from the com- 
mercial stimulus was the stimulus of international 
rivalry. The object of each nation was now to 
increase its trade, not by waiting upon the wants of 
mankind, but by a wholly different method, namely 
by getting exclusive possession of some rich tract in 
the New World. Now whatever may be the natural 
opposition between the spirit of trade and the spirit 
of war, trade pursued in this method is almost 
identical with war, and can hardly fail to lead to war. 
What is conquest but appropriation of territory! 
Now appropriation of territory under the old colonial 
system became the first national object. The five 
nations of the West were launched into an eager com- 
petition for territory that is, they were put into a 
relation to each other in which the pursuit of wealth 
naturally led to quarrels, a relation in which, as I 
said, commerce and war were inseparably entangled 
together, so that commerce led to war and war 
fostered commerce. The character of the new period 
which was thus opened showed itself very early. 
Consider the nature of that long desultory war of 
England with Spain, of which the expedition of the 
Armada was the most striking incident. I have said 
that the English sea-captains were very like buc- 
caneers, and indeed to England the war is throughout 
an industry, a way to wealth, the most thriving 




business, the most profitable investment, of the time. 
That Spanish war is in fact the infancy of English 
foreign trade. The first generation of Englishmen 
that invested capital, put it into that war. As now 
we put our money into railways or what not? so 
then the keen man of business took shares in the 
new ship which John Oxenham or Francis Drake was 
fitting out at Plymouth, and which was intended to 
lie in wait for the treasure galleons, or make raids 
upon the Spanish towns in the Gulf of Mexico. And 
yet the two countries were formally not even at war 
with each other. It was thus that the system of 
monopoly in the New World made trade and war 
indistinguishable from each other. The prosperity 
of Holland was the next and a still more startling 
illustration of the same law. What more ruinous, 
you say, than a long war, especially to a small state 1 
And yet Holland made her fortune in the world by 
a war of some eighty years with Spain. How was 
this ? It was because war threw open to her attack 
the whole boundless possessions of her antagonist in 
the New World, which would have been closed to her 
in peace. By conquest she made for herself an 
Empire, and this Empire made her rich. 

These are the new views which begin to determine 
English policy under the Protectorate. From the 
point from which we here regard English history, the 
great occurrence of the seventeenth century before 
1688 is not the Civil War or the execution of the 
King, but the intervention of Cromwell in the Euro- 
pean war. This act may almost be regarded as the 


foundation of the English World-Empire. It was of so 
much immediate importance that it may be said to 
have decided the fall of the Spanish Power. Spain, 
which less than a century before had overshadowed 
the world, is found soon after lying a helpless prey 
to the ambition of Louis XIV. Perhaps the turning- 
point, is marked by the Revolution of Portugal, 
which took place in 1640. Then began the fall of 
Spain. But for twenty years from that time she 
struggled with her destiny, and the internal troubles 
of her rival France caused a reaction in her favour. 
At this crisis then the interference of Cromwell was 
decisive. Spain fell never to rise again, and no 
measure taken by England had for centuries been so 

But it marks the rise as well as the fall of a World- 
Power. England by this time has learned to profit 
by the example of Holland, and follows her in the 
path of commercial empire. The first Stuarts, though 
it was in their time that our first colonies were 
founded, show, I think, no signs of having entered 
into the new ideas. They abandon the Elizabethan 
system, and set their faces towards the Old World 
rather than the New. But this reaction comes to an 
end with the accession to power of the party of the 
Commonwealth. A policy now begins which is not, 
to be sure, very scrupulous, but is able, resolute, and 

It is oceanic and looks westward, like the policy 
of the later years of Elizabeth. Here for the first 
time the New World reacts upon the Old by actual 


personal influence. Dr. Palfrey has traced in a very 
interesting manner what I may call the New England 
element in our Parliamentary party. New England 
was itself the child of Puritanism, and of Puritanism 
in that second form of Independency to which Crom- 
well himself adhered. Accordingly it took a very 
direct part in the English Revolution. Several pro- 
minent English politicians of that time may be 
mentioned who had themselves lived in Massa- 
chusetts, e.g. Sir Henry Vane, George Downing, and 
Hugh Peters, Cromwell's chaplain. Now too the 
great English navy, so famous since, begins to rule 
the seas under the command of Robert Blake. The 
navy is now and henceforth the great instrument of 
England's power. The army though it is more highly 
organised than ever before, and has in fact usurped 
the government of the country and placed its leader 
on the throne, this army falls with a great catas- 
trophe and is devoted to public execration, but the 
navy from this time forward is the nation's favourite. 
Henceforward it is a maxim that England is not a 
military state, that she ought to have either no army 
or the smallest army possible, but that her navy 
ought to be the strongest in the world. 

From our point of view the colonial policy of 
Cromwell does not attract us by any marked super- 
iority either in morality or success to that of the 
Restoration, but rather as the model which Charles 
II. imitates. Moral rectitude is hardly a character- 
istic of it, and if it is religious, this perhaps would 
have appeared, had the Protectorate lasted longer, to 


have been its most dangerous feature. Nothing is 
more dangerous than Imperialism marching with an 
idea on its banner, and Protestantism was to our 
Emperor Oliver what the ideas of the Revolution 
were to Napoleon and his nephew. The success too 
of this policy is of the same Napoleonic type. Eng- 
land had become for the moment a military State, 
and necessarily assumed a far grander position in the 
world than she could support when she disbanded 
her army and became constitutional again. The 
Protectorate was fortunate in coming to an end 
before its true character was understood. By the 
law of its nature it was drawn towards war. It is 
an illusion to suppose that the Puritanism of the 
Protector or of his party was analogous to modern 
Liberalism, and therefore inspired a repugnance to 
war. Read Marvell's panegyric on him. The virtu- 
ous poet predicts that Oliver will be ere long "a 
Caesar to Gaul and a Hannibal to Italy." Does the 
prospect shock him ? Not at all ; lest his hero should 
falter in the course, he exhorts him to " march inde- 
fatigably on," and bids him remember that " the same 
acts that did gain a power must it maintain." Nor 
when we examine the Protector's foreign policy do 
we find him unmindful of this principle. He seems 
to look forward to a religious war, in which England 
will play the same part in Europe that he himself 
with his Ironsides has played in England. Some of 
his modern admirers have perceived this. "In truth," 
writes Macaulay, " there was nothing which Cromwell 
had, for his own sake and that of his family, so much 


reason to desire as a general religious war in Europe. 
. . . Unhappily for him he had no opportunity of dis- 
playing his admirable military talents except against 
the inhabitants of the British isles." We may well, 
I think, shudder at the thought of the danger which 
was removed by the fall of the Protectorate. 

On the side of the Continent this imperialist policy 
was developed but imperfectly, but on the side of the 
New World, where it was borne upon the tide of the 
time, it went further and had more lasting conse- 
quences. Here indeed Cromwell's policy is only that 
of the Long Parliament before him and of Charles II. 
after him. It has indeed a peculiarly absolute and 
unscrupulous tinge. Of his own pure will, without 
consulting directly or indirectly the people, and in 
spite of opposition in his Council, he plunges the 
country into a war with Spain. This war is com- 
menced after the manner of the old Elizabethan 
sea-rovers by a sudden descent without previous 
quarrel or declaration of war upon St. Domingo. I 
remember hearing a predecessor of my own, Sir J. 
Stephen, say in this place that, if any of his hearers 
had a taste for iconoclasm, he could recommend him 
to employ it upon the buccaneering Cromwell. Per- 
haps this may seem too severe, when we remember 
the lawlessness of all maritime war at that time. 
What I wish you to remark is the continuity that 
holds together this Cromwellian policy with the 
Elizabethan, and equally with the policy which 
the nation pursued in the eighteenth century, when 
in 1739 it went to war again to break the Spanish 


monopoly. In all these cases alike you see the close 
connection which the old colonial system established 
between war and trade. 

But the great characteristic of this Commonwealth 
period, indeed of the whole middle part of the seven- 
teenth century, is not war with Spain, but war with 
Holland. If Cromwell's breach with Spain shows 
most strikingly by its violent suddenness the spirit 
of the new commercial policy, yet it is capable of 
being misinterpreted. For Spain was the great 
Catholic Power, and therefore it might be imagined 
that our war with her was caused by the other great 
historic cause which then acted, by the Reformation, 
and not by the New World. But what of our war 
with Holland? Had the Reformation been the 
dominating cause in the seventeenth century, we 
should have seen England and Holland in permanent 
brotherly alliance. It is the great proof that this 
cause is fast giving way to the other, viz. the great 
trade-rivalry produced by the New World, that all 
through the middle of the seventeenth century 
England and Holland wage great naval wars of a 
character such as had never been seen before. These 
wars are seldom sufficiently considered as a whole, 
and therefore are explained by causes which in fact 
were only secondary. This is especially the case 
with the war of 1672, for which Charles II. and the 
Cabal are responsible. It is cited as a proof of the 
reckless immorality of that Government, that it 
combined with the Catholic Government of Louis 
XIV. to strike a deadly blow at the brother Pro- 




testant Power, and that it did so for a dynastic 
interest, for the purpose of overthrowing the oli- 
garchic or Louvestein faction and raising to power 
Charles II. 's nephew, the young Prince of Orange. 
And no doubt Charles II. had this object. Never- 
theless there was nothing new at that time either in 
war with Holland or alliance with France. Instead 
of suddenly reversing the foreign policy of the 
country, Charles here followed precedents set by 
the Commonwealth and by Cromwell, for the former 
had waged fierce war with Holland, and the latter 
had entered into alliance with France. Accordingly 
the Government was supported by some of those 
who inherited the tradition of the Commonwealth. 
Anthony Ashley Cooper, a man of Cromwellian ideas, 
supported it by quoting the old words Delenda est 
Carthago. In other words: "Holland is our great 
rival in trade, on the Ocean and in the New World. 
Let us destroy her, though she be a Protestant Power ; 
let us destroy her with the help of a Catholic Power." 
These were the maxims of the Commonwealth and of 
the Protector, because, Puritans though they were, 
and though they had risen up against Popery, they 
understood that in their age the struggle of the 
Churches was falling into the background, and that 
the rivalry of the maritime Powers for trade and 
empire in the New World was taking its place as the 
question of the day. 

And thus we are able to fill up the large outline 
of the history of Greater Britain. We saw in the 
Elizabethan war with Spain the movement, the 


fermentation out of which it sprang. Under the 
first two Stuarts we see it actually come into exist- 
ence by the settlement of Virginia, New England 
and Maryland. At a later time, in the eighteenth 
century, it is seen to engage, now more mature, in a 
long duel with Greater France. What occupies the 
interval? This is the foundation of the English 
navy and the great duel with Holland. It covers 
the middle of the seventeenth century, it embraces our 
first great naval wars, and the following acquisitions : 
Jamaica conquered under Cromwell from Spain, 
Bombay received by Charles II. from Portugal, New 
York acquired also by Charles II. from Holland. 

This great struggle with Holland is followed by a 
period of close alliance with Holland, represented in 
the career of William of Orange. From our point 
of view this appears as a temporary revival of the 
Reformation-contest. By the Revocation of the Edict 
of Nantes the world is thrown back into the religious 
wars of the sixteenth century. The New World 
passes for a time into the background; once more 
the question is of Catholicism or religious freedom. 
Once more therefore the two Protestant Powers 
stand shoulder to shoulder against France. William 
rules both countries and the trade-rivalry is adjourned 
for a time. 



THE object 1 professed to set before myself in these 
lectures was to present English history to you in 
such a light that the interest of it instead of gradually 
diminishing should go on increasing to the close. 
You will perceive by this time in what way I hope 
to do this. It is impossible that the history of any 
State can be interesting, unless it exhibits some sort 
of development. Political life that is uniform has 
no history, however prosperous it may be. Now it 
appears to me that English historians fail in the 
later periods of England, because they have traced 
one great development to its completion, and do not 
perceive that, if they would advance further, they 
must look out for some other development. More 
or less consciously, they have always before their 
minds the idea of constitutional liberty. This idea 
suffices until they reach the Revolution of 1688, 
perhaps even until they reach the accession of the 


House of Brunswick. But after this it fails them. 
Not that development ceases in the English Con- 
stitution at that point, nor even that to the political 
student it becomes less interesting. But it begins to 
be gradual and quiet ; the tension is relaxed ; dram- 
atic incident henceforth must be looked for elsewhere. 
Our historians are not sufficiently alive to this. It 
may be true that George IIL's use of royal influence 
attained in an insidious way objects similar to those 
which the Stuarts tried to reach by prerogative or 
by military force. But when Wilkes and Home 
Tooke, Chatham and Fox are brought forward to 
play the parts of Prynne and Milton, Pym and 
Shaf tesbury, the interest of the reader grows languid. 
He seems to have before him the feeble second part 
of some striking story. Those parliamentary strug- 
gles which in the seventeenth century were so intense, 
seem, when repeated in the eighteenth, to have 
something conventional about them. 

The mistake, according to me, lies in selecting 
these struggles to fill the foreground of the scene. 
It is a misrepresentation to describe England in 
George IIL's reign as mainly occupied in resisting 
the encroachments of a somewhat narrow-minded 
king. We exaggerate the importance of these petty 
struggles. England was then engaged in other and 
vaster enterprises. She was not wholly occupied in 
doing over again what she had done before ; she was 
also doing new and great things. And these new 
things had vast consequences, which have changed 
and are at this day changing the face of the world. 


It is the historian's business then to open a new 
scene, and to bring into the foreground new actors. 

I have now brought out in strong relief this new 
development in English history. I have shown that 
in the same seventeenth century, when England at 
home was victoriously reconciling her old Teutonic 
liberties to modern political conditions, and finding a 
place in England for the professional soldier and for 
the religious dissenter, she was also at work abroad. 
She, along with the other four western States of 
Europe, was founding an empire in the New World. 
I have shown also that, though she began this work 
later than some other States, and did not for a long 
time make strikingly rapid progress in it, yet in the 
end she left all her rivals behind, so that she alone 
now remains in possession of a great New World 
empire. Now it was in the eighteenth century, just 
when the struggle for liberty was over, that she 
began thus to take the lead in the New World, and 
it is now, in the nineteenth century, that she finds 
herself called upon to consider what new shape she 
shall give to the Empire she possesses. It plainly 
follows that here is the new development we are in 
search of *the development which ought to make 
the principal study of historians from the time when 
they find constitutional liberty a completed develop- 
ment, and therefore an exhausted topic. For here is 
a development which ever since the seventeenth 
century has been steadily growing in magnitude; 
here is a development which binds together the 
future with the past. 


If then we give it the principal place, we escape 
the perplexity into which most historians fall, who 
strangely find the history grow less and less interest- 
ing as England grows greater and greater. But at 
the same time we shall find much rearrangement 
necessary. For we shall have adopted a new 
standard of importance for events, and a new 
principle of grouping. Colonial affairs and Indian 
affairs are usually pushed a little on one side by 
historians. They are relegated to supplementary 
chapters. It seems to be assumed that affairs which 
are remote from England cannot deserve a leading 
place in a history of England, as if the England of 
which histories are written were the island so-called, 
and not the political union named after the island, 
which is quite capable of expanding so as to cover 
half the globe. To us England will be wherever 
English people are found, and we shall look for its 
history in whatever places witness the occurrences 
most important to Englishmen. And therefore, as 
in the periods when the liberties of England were in 
danger we seek it principally at Westminster in the 
Parliamentary debates, so in these periods, of which 
the characteristic is that England is expanding into 
Greater Britain, English history will be wherever 
this expansion is taking place, even ' when the scene 
is as remote as Canada or as India. We shall avoid 
the error commonly committed in these later periods 
of confounding the history of England with the 
history of Parliament. The rearrangement which 
such a change will involve may affect especially the 




nineteenth and eighteenth centuries. But in the 
seventeenth century also, though we may not wish to 
displace the accepted arrangement, which has refer- 
ence to the struggle for liberty with the Stuart 
Kings, yet we must keep in our minds at the same 
time another arrangement, founded on the principle of 
marking the stages in the advance of Greater Britain. 
The accepted arrangement is according to reigns 
and dynasties, and in each reign it ranks as the 
principal occurrences the dealings of the sovereign 
with Parliament. On this system the leading 
demarcations are the accession of the House of 
Brunswick, and beyond that the accession of the 
House of Stuart, and in the middle the Great 
Interregnum and the Revolution of 1688. "We make 
far too much of these demarcations even when they 
are unobjectionable. We imagine a much greater 
difference than really existed between the age of 
George I. and that of Queen Anne, between that of 
William III. and that of Charles II., between the 
Restoration and the Commonwealth, between the age 
of James I. and the Elizabethan age. The Revolu- 
tion was not nearly so revolutionary, nor the Re- 
storation so reactionary, as is commonly supposed. 
But if once we begin to think of England as a living 
organism, which in the Elizabethan age began a 
process of expansion, never intermitted since, into 
Greater Britain, we shall find these divisions alto- 
gether useless, and shall feel the want of a completely 
new set of divisions to mark the successive stages of 
the expansion. 


I have already pointed out some of the principal 
of these divisions. But it will be well to present a 
connected view of English history as it appears when 
arranged on this principle. 

The history of the expansion of England must neces- 
sarily begin with the two ever-memorable voyages of 
Columbus and Vasco da Gama in the reign of Henry 
VII. From that moment the position of England 
among countries was entirely changed, though almost 
a century elapsed before the change became visible to 
all the world. In our rearrangement this tract of 
time forms one period, the characteristic of which is 
that England is gradually finding out her vocation to 
the sea. We pass by the domestic disturbances, 
political, religious and social, of that crowded age. 
We see nothing of the Reformation and its conse- 
quences. What we see is simply that England is 
slowly and gradually taking courage to claim her 
share with the Spanish and Portuguese in the new 
world that has been thrown open. There are a few 
voyages to Newfoundland and Labrador, then there 
is a series of bold adventures, which, however, proved 
not to have been happily planned. Our explorers, 
naturally but unfortunately, turned their attention 
to the Polar regions, and so discovered nothing but 
frozen Oceans, while their rivals were making a 
triumphal progress " on from island unto island at the 
gateways of the day." Next comes the series of 
buccaneering raids upon the Spanish settlements, in 
the course of which the English earned at least a 
character for seamanship and audacity. 




The Spanish Armada marks the moment when 
this period of preparation or apprenticeship closes. 
The internal modification in the nation is now com- 
plete. It has turned itself round, and looks now no 
longer towards the Continent but towards the Ocean 
and the New World. It has become both maritime 
and industrial. 

On the other system of arrangement the accession 
of the House of Stuart is thought to mark a decline. 
The Tudor sovereignty, popular and exercised with 
resolution and insight, makes way for a monarchy of 
divine right, pedantic and unintelligent. Nevertheless 
in our view there is no decline ; there is continuous 
development. The personal unlikeness of James and 
Charles to Elizabeth is a matter of indifference. The 
foundation of Greater Britain now takes place. John 
Smith, the Pilgrim Fathers, and Calvert establish the 
colonies of Virginia, New England, and Maryland, of 
which the last marks its date by its name, taken from 
Queen Henrietta Maria. 

Greater Britain henceforth exists, for henceforth 
Englishmen are living on both sides of the Atlantic 
Ocean. It received at once a peculiar stamp from 
the circumstances of the time. Greater Spain had 
been an artificial fabric, to which much thought and 
skilful contrivance had been applied by the Home 
Government. Authority, both civil and ecclesiastical, 
was more rigorous there than at home. This was 
because the Spanish settlements, as producing a 
steady revenue, were all-important to the mother- 
country. The English settlements, not being thus 


important, were neglected. This neglect had a 
momentous result owing to the discord just then 
springing up in England. Colonies, if not sources of 
wealth, might at least be useful as places of refuge 
for unauthorised opinions. Half a century before the 
voyage of the Mayflower Coligny 1 had given this 
turn to colonisation. He had conceived that idea of 
toleration along with local separation of rival religions, 
which was afterwards realised within France itself by 
the Edict of Nantes. How different, be it said in 
passing, would the world now be, if a Huguenot 
France had sprung up beyond the Atlantic ! The 
idea of Coligny was now realised by England. 2 As 
her settlements were made at a critical moment of 
dissension, an impulse to emigration was supplied 
which would not otherwise have existed, but at the 
same time there was introduced a subtle principle 
of opposition between the New World and the Old. 
The emigrants departed with a secret determination, 
which was to bear fruit later, not of carrying England 
with them, but of creating something which should 
not be England. 

The second phase of Greater Britain was brought 
on by the military revolution of 1648. After the 
triumph of the Commonwealth at home, it had to 

1 See an excellent account of his schemes in Mr. Besant's 

2 In the charter of Rhode Island, 1663, it is expressed distinctly. 
Religious liberty is granted " for that the same by reason of the 
remote distances of those places will, as We hope, be no breach of 
the unity and uniformity established in this nation." Charles II. 
in his religious policy seems always to keep his maternal grand- 
father in view. 





wage a new war with royalism by sea. From our 
point of view this second contest is more important 
than the first; for the army created by Cromwell 
was destined soon to dissolve again, but the maritime 
power organised by Vane and wielded by Blake is the 
English navy of all later time. Our maritime ascend- 
ency has its beginning here. "At this moment," 
says Ranke, " England awoke more clearly than ever 
before to a consciousness of the advantage of her 
geographical position, of the fact that a maritime 
vocation was that to which she was called by nature 
herself." Cromwell's attack upon the Spanish Empire 
and seizure of Jamaica, the most high-handed measure 
recorded in the modern history of England, is the 
natural effect of this new consciousness awakening at a 
moment when England found herself a military State. 
The next phase is the duel with Holland. This 
belongs most peculiarly to the first half of the reign 
of Charles II., when it fills the foreground of the 
historic stage ; but it had begun long before at the 
massacre of Amboyna in 1623, and had grown in 
prominence under the Commonwealth. It may be 
said to end in the year 1674, when Charles II. with- 
drew from the attack on Holland, which he had made 
in combination with Louis XIV. That was a great 
moment of glory for Holland, when in such extreme 
danger she found a new champion in the family which 
had saved her before, when a new Stadtholder, a 
second William the Silent, stood in the breach to 
withstand the new invasion. Nevertheless it was 
the beginning of the decline of Holland. For in this 


second great struggle of the Dutch Republic, though 
she showed the old heroism, she could not have 
all the old good fortune. She could not again 
positively prosper and grow rich by means of war, 
as she had done before. This time she was at 
war not with Spain, the possessor of infinite colonies, 
which she could plunder at leisure, but only with 
France ; her fleet did not now sweep the seas un- 
opposed, but was confronted with the powerful navy 
of England ; and the very source of her wealth, her 
mercantile marine, was struck at by the English 
Navigation Act Accordingly, though she saved her- 
self, and afterwards had another age of great deeds, 
the decay of Holland begins now to set in ; it becomes 
visible to all the world at the death of her great 
Stadtholder, the last of the old line, our William III. 
England, richer by nature, and not tried by invasion, 
begins now to draw ahead, and the Oa\aa-a-oKparia 
of Holland terminates. 

The reign of Charles II. stands out in the history 
of Greater Britain as a period of remarkable progress. 1 
It was then especially that the American Colonies 
took the character which they had when they 
attracted so much attention in the next century, of 
an uninterrupted series of settlements extending 
from South to North along the Atlantic coast. For 
it was in this reign that the Carolinas and Pennsyl- 
vania were founded and that the Dutch were expelled 

1 "The spirit of enterprise," writes Mr. Saintsbury, "and the 
desire for colonisation appear to have been almost as strong at that 
period as in the days of Elizabeth and James." 


from New York and Delaware. Considered as a 
whole and judged by the standard of the time, this 
American settlement begins now to be most imposing. 
Its distinction is that it has a population which is at 
once large and almost purely European. Through- 
out the Spanish settlements the Europeans were 
blended and lost in an ocean of Indian and half -Indian 
population. The Dutch colonies naturally wanted 
population, because the Dutch mother -country was 
so small ; they were generally little more than 
commercial stations. The French colonies, which 
now begin to attract attention, were also weak in 
this respect. Already in the dawn of French colonial 
greatness might be perceived a deficiency in genuine 
colonising power, and perhaps also that slowness of 
multiplication which has characterised the French 
since. The row of English colonies on the Atlantic 
was perhaps already the most solid achievement in 
the way of colonisation that any European state 
could boast, though it would seem insignificant 
enough if judged by a modern standard. The whole 
population at the end of Charles II. 's reign was about 
two hundred thousand, but it was a population 
which doubled itself every quarter of a century. 

What now is the next phase of Greater Britain ? 
It enters now, in conjunction with Holland, upon a 
period of resistance to the aggressions of Greater 
France created by Colbert. From our point of view 
the administration of Colbert means the deliberate 
entrance of France into the competition of the 
Western States for the New World. France had 


not been much, if at all, behind England in her early 
explorations. Jacques Cartier had made himself a 
name earlier than Frobisher and Drake ; Coligny had 
had schemes of colonisation earlier than Raleigh. 
Acadie and Canada were settled and the town of 
Quebec founded under the guidance of Samuel 
Champlain about the time of the voyage of the 
Mayflower. But, as usual, her European entangle- 
ments checked the progress of France in the New 
World. The Thirty Years' War had given her an 
opportunity of laying the foundation of a European 
Ascendency. All through the middle of that century 
she was engaged in almost uninterrupted European 
war. Of the great Spanish estate which is in liquid- 
ation she leaves the colonial part to Holland and 
England, because she naturally covets for herself 
that which lies close to her frontier, the Burgundian 
part. In the days of Cromwell therefore she has 
fallen somewhat behind in the colonial race. Mazarin 
seems to have little comprehension of the oceanic 
policy of the age. But as soon as he is gone, and 
the war is over, and a tranquil period has set in, 
Colbert rises to guide her into this new path. He 
appropriates all the great commercial inventions of 
the Dutch Republic, particularly the Chartered Com- 
pany. He labours, and for a time with success, to 
give to France, the State pre-eminently of feudalism, 
aristocracy and chivalry, an industrial and modern 
character, such as the attraction of the New World 
was impressing upon the maritime states. He figures 
in Adam Smith as the representative statesman of 




fche mercantile system, and indeed, as the minister of 
Louis XIV., he seemed to embody that perversion of 
the commercial spirit which filled Europe with war, 
so that, as Adam Smith himself says, "commerce, 
which ought naturally to be, among nations as among 
individuals, a bond of union and friendship, has 
become the most fertile source of discord and 

We have remarked that the seventeenth century 
is controlled by two great forces, of which one, the 
Reformation, is decreasing, while the other, which is 
the attraction of the New World, increases, and that 
the student must continually beware of attributing 
to one of these forces results produced by the other. 
Thus under Cromwell, as under Elizabeth before him, 
the commercial influence works disguised under the 
religious. When now, later in the century, the duel 
between the two Sea -Powers is succeeded by their 
alliance against France, we have once more to unravel 
the same tangle of causation. This alliance endured 
through two great wars and through two English 
reigns, and it seems, when we trace the growth of it 
from 1674 to the Revolution of 1688, to be an alliance 
of the two Protestant Powers against a new Catholic 
aggression. For in those years there set in one of 
the strangest and most disastrous reactions that 
history has to record. The Revocation of the Edict 
of Nantes revived the politics of the sixteenth 
century. Coinciding nearly in time with the acces- 
sion of the Catholic James II. in England, it created 
a world-wide religious panic. History seemed to be 


rolled back just a century, the age of the League, 
of Philip II. and William the Silent, seemed to have 
returned, at a time when it was thought that the 
balance of the Confessions had been established 
firmly thirty years before in the Treaty of Westphalia, 
and when the age had during those thirty years been 
drifting in the other direction of colonial expansion. 
The ideas of Colbert seem suddenly to be forgotten, 
the wealth he has amassed is wasted, the navy he 
has founded is exposed to destruction at La Hogue. 
It is against this Catholic Eevival that England and 
Holland first form their alliance. 

But it was only for a moment, and less really 
than apparently, that the New World was thus 
pushed into the background. If we trace history 
upward instead of downward, if we look from the 
Treaty of Utrecht back upon the alliance of the Sea 
Powers which triumphed there, we see an alliance of 
quite a different kind. There has been no breach of 
continuity; Marlborough has the same position as 
William, and the alliance is still directed against the 
same Louis XIV. But the religious warmth has 
faded out of the war, which now betrays by the 
settlement made at Utrecht its intensely commercial 
character. That war has such a splendour in our 
annals, and the title we give it, " War of the Spanish 
Succession," has such a monarchical ring, that we 
think it a good sample of the fantastic, barbaric, 
wasteful wars of the olden time. It is of this war 
that " little Peterkin " desires to know " what good 
came of it at last." In reality it is the most business- 


like of all our wars, and it was waged in the interest 
of English and Dutch merchants whose trade and 
livelihood were at stake. All those colonial questions, 
which had been setting Europe at discord ever since 
the New World was laid open, were brought to a 
head at once by the prospect of a union between 
France and the Spanish Empire, for such a union 
would close almost the whole New World to the 
English and Dutch, and throw it open to the 
countrymen of Colbert, who were at that moment 
exploring and settling the Mississippi. Behind all 
the courtly foppery of the Grand Siecle commercial 
considerations now rule the world as they had never 
ruled it before, and as they continued to rule it 
through much of the prosaic century that was then 

In the midst of this war a memorable event befell, 
which belongs to this development in the fullest 
sense, the legislative union of England and Scotland. 
Read the history of it in Burton ; you will see that 
it marks the beginning of modern Scottish history, 
just as the Armada that of modern English history. 
It is the entrance of Scotland into the competition 
for the New World. No nation has since, in propor- 
tion to its numbers, reaped so much profit from the 
New World as the Scotch, but before the Union 
they had no position there. They were excluded 
from the English trade, and the poverty of the 
country did not allow them successfully to compete 
with the other nations on their own account. In 
William Ill's reign they made a great national 


effort on the plan then usual. They tried to appro- 
priate to themselves a territory in the New World. 
They set up the Darien Company, which was to 
carve a piece for the benefit of Scotland out of the 
huge territory claimed by Spain as its own. This 
enterprise failed, and it was out of the excitement 
and disappointment caused by the failure that the 
negotiations arose which ended in the Union. England 
gained by the Union security in time of war against 
a domestic foe ; Scotland gained admission into the 
New World. 

In the history of the expansion of England one 
of the greatest epochs is marked by the Treaty of 
Utrecht. In our survey this date stands out almost 
as prominently as the date of the Spanish Armada, 
for it marks the beginning of England's supremacy 
At the time of the Armada we saw England enter- 
ing the race for the first time ; at Utrecht England 
wins the race. Then she had the audacity to defy 
a power far greater than her own, and her success 
brought her forward and gave her a place among 
great states. She had advanced steadily since, but in 
the first half of the seventeenth century Holland had 
attracted more attention and admiration, and in the 
second half France. From about 1660 to 1700 
France had been the first state in the world beyond 
all dispute. But the Treaty of Utrecht left England 
the first state in the world, and she continued for 
some years to be first without a rival. Her reputa- 
tion in other countries, the respect felt for her claims 
in literature, philosophy, scholarship and science, date 




from this period. If ever, it was after this time that 
she held the same kind of intellectual primacy which 
France had held before. Much of this splendour was 
transient, but England has remained ever since that 
date on a higher level than ever before. It has been 
universally allowed ever since that no state is more 
powerful than England. But especially it has been 
admitted that in wealth and commerce and in maritime 
power, no state is equal to her. This was partly 
because her rivals had fallen off in power, partly 
because she herself had advanced. 

The decline of Holland had by this time become 
perceptible. So long as William lived, she enjoyed 
the benefit of his renown. But in Marlborough's 
time, and from that time forward, languor and the 
desire of repose grow upon her. Her powers have 
been overstrained in war with France and in competi- 
tion with England. Never again does she display her 
old energy. Thus the old rival has fallen behind. 
The new rival, France, is for the moment over- 
whelmed by the disasters of the war, and she, whose 
affairs thirty years before had been set in order by 
the greatest financier of the age, is now burdened 
with a bankruptcy she will carry with her to the 
Revolution. Her bold snatch at the trade of the 
New World has not succeeded. She has in a sense 
won Spain, but not that which made Spain valuable, 
viz. a share in the American monopoly. Some part 
of the loss was indeed soon to be repaired. France 
was soon to show much colonial enterprise and 
intelligence. Dupleix in India, La Galissoniere in 


Canada, the Bailli Suffren on the sea, were to carry 
the name of France high in the New World and 
maintain for a long time an equal competition with 
England. But at the moment of the Peace of 
Utrecht so much could hardly have been foreseen. 
Fresh from her victories, England seemed at that 
moment even greater than she was. 

The positive gains of England were Acadie, or 
Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland (surrendered by 
France) and the Asiento Compact granted by Spain. 
In other words, the first step was taken towards the 
destruction of Greater France by depriving her of 
one of her three settlements, Acadie, Canada, and 
Louisiana, in North America. And the first great 
breach was made in that intolerable Spanish mono- 
poly, which then closed the greater part of Central 
and Southern America to the trade of the world. 
England was allowed to furnish Spanish America 
with slaves, and along with slaves she soon managed 
to smuggle in other commodities. 

I must pause here for a moment to make a general 
observation. You will remark that in this survey of 
the growth of Greater Britain I do not make the 
smallest attempt, either to glorify the conquests 
made, or to justify the means adopted by our 
countrymen, any more than, when I point out that 
England outstripped her four rivals in the competi- 
tion, I have the smallest thought of claiming for 
England any superior virtue or valour. I have not 
called upon you to admire or approve Drake or 
Hawkins, or the Commonwealth or Cromwell, or the 




Government of Charles IL Indeed it is not easy to 
approve the conduct of those who built up Greater 
Britain, though there is plenty to admire in their 
achievements, and much less certainly to blame or to 
shudder at than in the deeds of the Spanish adven- 
turers. But I am not writing the biography of these 
men ; it is not as a biographer nor as a poet nor as 
a moralist that I deal with their actions. I am con- 
cerned always with a single problem only, that of 
causation. My question always is, How came this 
enterprise to be undertaken, how came it to succeed 1 
I ask it not in order that we may imitate the actions 
we read of, but in order that we may discover the 
4 laws by which states rise, expand and prosper or fall 
in this world. In this instance I have also the 
further object, viz. to throw light on the question 
whether Greater Britain, now that it exists, may be 
expected to prosper and endure or to fall. Perhaps 
you may ask whether we can expect or wish it to 
prosper, if crime has gone to the making of it. But 
the God who is revealed in history does not usually 
judge in this way. History does not show that 
conquests made lawlessly in one generation are 
certain or even likely to be lost again in another : 
and, as government is never to be confounded with 
property, it does not appear that states have always 
even a right, much less that they are bound, to 
restore gains that may be more or less ill-gotten. 
The Norman conquest was lawless enough, yet it 
prospered and prospered permanently ; we ourselves 
own this land of England by inheritance from Saxon 


pirates. The title of a nation to its territory is 
generally to be sought in primitive times, and would 
be found, if we could recover it, to rest upon violence 
and massacre ; the territory of Greater Britain was 
acquired in the full light of history and in part by 
unjustifiable means, but less unrighteously than the 
territory of many other Powers, and perhaps far less 
unrighteously than that of those states whose power 
is now most ancient and established. If we compare 
it with other Empires in respect of its origin, we 
shall see that it has arisen in the same way ; that its 
founders have had the same motives, and these not 
mainly noble ; that they have displayed much fierce 
covetousness, mixed with heroism ; that they have 
not been much troubled by moral scruples, at least in 
their dealings with enemies and rivals, though they 
have often displayed virtuous self-denial in their 
dealings among themselves. So far we shall find 
Greater Britain to be like other Empires, and like 
other states of whose origin we have any knowledge ; 
but its annals are on the whole better, not worse, 
than those of most. They are conspicuously better 
than those of Greater Spain, which are infinitely 
more stained with cruelty and rapacity. In some 
pages of these annals there is a real elevation of 
thought and an intention at least of righteous deal- 
ing, which are not often met with in the history of 
colonisation. Some of these founders remind us of 
Abraham and Aeneas. The crimes on the other 
hand are such as have been almost universal in 


I make these remarks in this place because I have 
now before me the greatest of these crimes. England 
had taken some share in the slave-trade as early as 
Elizabeth's age, when John Hawkins distinguished 
himself as the first Englishman who stained his hands 
with its atrocity. You will find in Hakluyt his own 
narrative, how he came in 1567 upon an African 
town, of which the huts were covered with dry palm- 
leaves, how he set fire to it, and out of "8000 
inhabitants succeeded in seizing 250 persons, men, 
women and children." But we are not to suppose 
that from that time until the abolition of the slave- 
trade England took a great or leading share in it. 
England had then, and for nearly half a century 
afterwards, no colonies in which there could be a 
demand for slaves, and when she acquired colonies 
they were not mining colonies like the first colonies 
of Spain, in which the demand for slaves had been 
urgent. Like our colonial empire itself, our parti- 
cipation in the slave-trade was the gradual growth of 
the seventeenth century. By the Treaty of Utrecht 
it was, as it were, established, and became " a central 
object of English policy." 1 From this date I am 
afraid we took the leading share, and stained our- 
selves beyond other nations in the monstrous and 
enormous atrocities of the slave-trade. 

This simply means that we were not better in our 
principles in this respect than other nations, and that, 
having now at last risen to the highest place among 

1 The phrase is borrowed from Mr. Lecky. See History of 
England in the Eighteenth Century, ii. p. 13. 


the trading-nations of the world, and having extorted 
the Asiento from Spain by our military successes, we 
accidentally obtained the largest share in this wicked 
commerce. It is fair that we should bear this in 
mind while we read the horror-striking stories which 
the party of Abolition afterwards published. Our 
guilt in this matter was shared by all the colonising 
nations ; we were not the inventors of the crime, and, 
if within a certain period we were more guilty than 
other nations, it is some palliation that we published 
our own guilt, repented of it, and did at last renounce 
it. But taken together, the whole successful develop- 
ment which culminated at Utrecht secularised and 
materialised the English people as nothing had ever 
done before. Never were sordid motives so supreme, 
never was religion and every high influence so much 
discredited, as in the thirty years that followed. 
There has been a disposition to antedate this corrup- 
tion, and to attribute it to the wrong cause. It was 
not so much after the Restoration, as after the 
Revolution, and especially after the reign of Queen 
Anne, that cynicism and corruption set in. In his 
well-known essay on "the Comic Dramatists of the 
Restoration " Macaulay attributes to the Restoration 
the cynicism of four writers, Wycherley, Congreve, 
Vanbrugh, and Farquhar, of which writers three did 
not write a play till several years after the Revolu- 
tion ! 

We have arrived then at the stage when England, 
in the course of her expansion, stands out for the 
first time as the supreme maritime and commercial 




Power in the World. It is evidently her connection 
with the New World that has given her this char- 
acter ; nevertheless she did not yet appear at least 
to ordinary eyes as absolutely the first colonial 
Power. In extent her territories were still insignifi- 
cant by the side of those of Spain, and much inferior 
to those of Portugal. They were but a fringe on the 
Atlantic coast of North America, a few Western 
Islands and a few commercial stations in India. 
What was this compared with the mighty vice- 
royalties of Spain in Southern and Central America 1 
And, as I have said before, France as a colonial 
Power might seem in some respects superior to 
England ; her colonial policy might seem more able 
and likely in the end to be more successful. 

The next stage in the history of Greater Britain 
is one which I have already surveyed. Holland 
being now in decline, the rivalry of England is hence- 
forth with Spain and France, Powers henceforth 
united by a Family Compact. But the pressure of it 
falls mainly on France, since it is France, not Spain, 
that is neighbour to England both in America and 
in India. That duel of France and England begins, 
which I have already described. The decisive event 
of it is the Seven Years' War and the new position 
given to England by the Treaty of Paris in 1762. 
Here is the culminating point of English power in 
the eighteenth century; nay, relatively to other 
states England has never since been so great. For a 
moment it seems that the whole of North America is 
destined to be hers, and to make for ever a part of 


Greater Britain. Such an Empire would not have 
been greater in mere extent than that which Spain 
already possessed; but in essential greatness and 
power how infinitely superior ! The Spanish Empire 
had the fundamental defect of not being European 
in blood. Not only did the part of the population 
which was European belong to a race which even in 
Europe appeared to be in decline, but there was 
another large part which had a mixture of barbarism 
in its blood, and another larger still whose blood was 
purely barbaric. The English Empire was through- 
out of civilised blood, except so far as it had a slave- 
population. But the example of antiquity shows 
that a separate slave-caste, discharging all drudgery 
and unskilled labour, is consistent with a very high 
form of civilisation. Much more serious is the de- 
terioration of the national type by barbaric inter- 

In this culminating phase England becomes an 
object of jealousy and dread to all Europe, as Spain 
and afterwards France had been in the seventeenth 
century. It was about the time when she won her 
first victories in the colonial duel with France, that 
an outcry began to be raised against her as the 
tyrant of the seas. In 1745, just after the capture 
of Louisburg, the French Ambassador at St. Peters- 
burg handed in a note, in which he complained of 
the maritime despotism of the English, and their 
purpose of destroying the trade and navigation of all 
other nations ; he asserted the necessity of a com- 
bination to maintain the maritime balance. England's 


former ally joins in the complaint, for there appeared 
about the same time a pamphlet entitled " La voix d'un 
citoyen & Amsterdam" in which the cry Deknda est 
Carthago, formerly raised by Shaftesbury against 
Holland, is now echoed back by a certain Maubert 
against England. " Mettons nous," he exclaims, " avec 
la France au niveau de la Grande Bretagne, en- 
richissons-nous de ses propres fautes et du delire 
ambitieux de ses Ministres." And then he suggests a 
Coalition for the purpose of procuring the repeal of 
the Navigation Act. From this time till 1815 
jealousy of England is one of the great motive forces 
of European politics. It led to the intervention of 
France in America, and to the Armed Neutrality ; 
later it became a kind of passion in the mind of the 
First Napoleon, and lured him gradually on, partly 
against his will, to make the conquest of Europe. 

So far we have traced a course of uninterrupted 
continuous expansion. Slowly but surely England 
has grown greater and greater. But now occurs an 
event wholly new in kind, a sudden shock, proving 
that in the New World there might be other hostile 
Powers beside the rival States of Europe. The 
secession of the American colonies is one of those 
events, the immense significance of which could not 
even at the moment be overlooked. It was felt at 
the time to be pregnant with infinite consequences, 
and so it has proved, though the consequences have 
not been precisely of the kind that was expected. It 
was the first stirring of free-will on the part of the 
New World which had remained, since Columbus 


discovered it, and since the Spanish Adventurers 
ruthlessly destroyed whatever germs of civilisation it 
possessed, in a kind of nonage. But now it asserts 
itself ; it accomplishes a revolution in the European 
style, appealing to all the principles of European 
civilisation. This was in itself a stupendous event, 
perhaps in itself greater than that French Revolution, 
which followed so soon and absorbed so completely 
the attention of mankind. But it might have seemed 
at the moment to be the fall of Greater Britain. For 
the thirteen colonies which then seceded were almost 
all the then colonial Empire of Britain. And their 
secession seemed at the moment a proof demonstra- 
tive that any Greater Britain of the kind must always 
be unnatural and short-lived. Nevertheless a century 
has passed and there is still a Greater Britain, and 
on more than the old scale of magnitude. 

This event will be the subject of the next lecture. 



As objects change their outline when the observer 
changes his point of view, so the history of a state 
may be made to take many forms. The outline I 
have given of English history in the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries is very different from that with 
which we are familiar, because I have taken a point 
of view from which many things seem great that 
before seemed small, and many small that seemed 
great, while some things are now outline that were 
shading, and others are shading that were outline. 

And yet most people think of history as if its 
outline were quite fixed and unalterable. Details, 
they think, may be more or less accurate, more or less 
vivid, in this historian or in that, but the framework 
must be the same for all historians. In reality it is 
just this framework, the list of great events which 
children learn by heart, that is unfixed, unstable, 
alterable, though it seems made of cast-iron. For 
what makes an event great or little ? Is the acces- 


sion of a king necessarily a great event? At the 
moment it seems great, but when the excitement it 
causes has subsided, it may appear to have been in 
the history of the country no event at all. This 
principle consistently applied would produce a re- 
volution in our ideas of history. It would show us 
that the real history of a state may be quite different 
from the conventional, since all or many of the events 
that have passed for great may be really unimportant, 
and the truly important events may be among those 
which have been slightly or not at all recorded. 

We must have then a test for the historical im- 
portance of events, and to apply this test will be a 
principal part of the historian's task Now what 
test shall we apply ? Shall we say, " The historian 
should make prominent those events which are 
interesting ?" But surely an occurrence may be inter- 
esting biographically, or morally, or poetically, and 
yet not interesting historically. Shall we say then, 
"He is to give to events the importance they were 
felt to have at the moment when they happened ; he 
is to revive the emotion of the time " ? I maintain 
that it is not the business of the historian, as we so 
often hear, to put his reader back in the past time, or 
to make him regard events as they were regarded by 
contemporaries. Where would be the use of this? 
Great events are commonly judged by contemporaries 
quite wrongly. It is in fact one of the chief functions 
of the historian to correct this contemporary judg- 
ment. Instead of making us share the emotions of 
the passing time, it is his business to point out to us 


that this event, which absorbed the public attention 
when it happened, was really of no great importance, 
and that event, though it passed almost unnoticed, 
was of infinite consequence. 

Of all events of English history it is perhaps the 
American Eevolution that has suffered most from the 
application of these wrong tests. Considered as a 
mere story or romance, it is not so very interesting. 
There is no very wonderful generalship, no very 
glorious victory on either side, and of all heroes 
Washington is the least dramatic. We forget that 
what is not very thrilling as story may be of profound 
interest as history. It marks our blindness to this 
distinction that we rank the French Revolution, 
because of its abundance of personal incidents, so 
much before the American. But I think the other 
cause of error I mentioned operates in this case even 
more fatally. The historian must not indeed be a 
novelist, but it is as bad, if not worse, for him to be 
a mere newspaper politician. The average contem- 
porary view of a great event is almost certain to be 
shallow and false. And yet it seems to be the 
ambition of our historians to estimate the American 
Revolution just as they would have done had they 
been members of Parliament at the time of the 
administration of Lord North. Instead of trying to 
give the philosophy of it and to assign to the event 
its due importance in the history of the world, they 
seem always making up their minds how it would 
have been their duty to vote at this stage of the 
proceedings or at that, on the Repeal of the Stamp 


Act, or the Boston Port Bill, or the Compromise Act 
I call this the newspaper treatment of affairs. It 
waits upon the parliamentary debates, and has an 
eye to the fate of the Ministry and to the result ol 
the next division. In particular it takes up and 
dismisses questions as they come, and on each it 
contents itself with the smattering of information 
which may suffice for the short space that the 
question may remain under discussion. All this may 
be well enough in its place, but it produces the most 
melancholy effect in historical writing. And yet in 
the modern periods of England history seems to aim 
only at perpetuating such ordinary superficial views 
of the moment. It is deeply infected throughout 
with the commonplaces of party politics, and in 
discussing the greatest questions seems always to 
take for its model the newspaper leading-article. 

What then is the true test of the historical 
importance of events 1 I say, it is their pregnancy, 
or in other words the greatness of the consequences 
likely to follow from them. On this principle I have 
argued that in the eighteenth century the expansion 
of England is historically far more important than all 
domestic questions and movements. Look at the 
great personage who dominates English politics 
through the whole middle period of that century, the 
elder Pitt. His greatness is throughout identified 
with the expansion of England ; he is a statesman of 
Greater Britain. It is in the buccaneering war with 
Spain that he sows his political wild oats ; his glory is 
won in the great colonial duel with France; his old age 


is spent in striving to avert schism in Greater 

Look now at the American Eevolution. In 
pregnancy this event is evidently unique. So it has 
always struck impartial observers at a distance. But 
the newspaper politicians of the day had no time for 
such large views. To them it presented itself only in 
detail, as a series of questions upon which Parliament 
would divide. These questions came before them 
mixed up inextricably with other questions, often of 
the pettiest kind, yet at the moment not less im- 
portant as practical questions of party politics. It is 
well known that the Stamp Act passed at first almost 
without notice. A Parliament which discussed one 
night the Address, another night listened to declama- 
tions on the back-stairs influence of Bute and covert 
attacks on the Princess Dowager, another night 
excited itself over Wilkes and General Warrants, 
found on the Order of the Day a proposal for taxing 
the colonies, and passed it as a matter of course with 
as little attention as is now given to the Indian 
Budget. This is deplorable enough, though it may 
be difficult to remedy. But what excuse can there 
be for introducing into history such a preposterous 
confusion of small things with great? And yet 
consider whether by our artless chronological method, 
and by the slavish obsequiousness with which our 
historians follow the order of business fixed by Parlia- 
ment, we do not really make much the same mistake 
in estimating the American Eevolution that was 
made by those who passed the Stamp Act with 


scarcely a division. The American question ia 
introduced in our histories almost as irrationally as 
it was introduced at the time into Parliament; it 
is introduced without any preparation, and in mere 
chronological order among other questions wholly 
unlike it. What is the use of history, if it does not 
protect us in reviewing the past from those surprises 
which in the politics of the day arise inevitably out 
of the vastness and multiplicity of modern states 1 
And yet the American Revolution surprises us now 
in the reading as much as it did our forefathers when 
it happened. We too, as we read, have our heads 
full of Bute's influence, of the king's marriage, of the 
king's illness, of Wilkes and General Warrants, when 
suddenly emerges the question of taxing the American 
colonies. Soon after we hear of discontent in the 
colonies. And then we say, just as our forefathers 
did, " By the way what cure these colonies, and how 
did they come into existence, and how are they 
governed 1" The historian, just as a daily paper 
might do, undertakes to post us up in the subject. 
He stops and inserts at this point a retrospective 
chapter, in which he informs us that the country 
really has, and has long had, colonies in North 
America ! He imparts to us just as much informa- 
tion about these colonies as may enable us to under- 
stand the debates now about to open on the repeal of 
the Stamp Act, and then, apologising for his departure 
from chronological order, he hurries back to his 
narrative. In this narrative he seems always to 
watch proceedings from the reporters' gallery in the 




House of Commons. You would think it was in 
Parliament that the Revolution took place. America 
is the great question of the Rockingham Cabinet, 
then later of the North Cabinet. The final loss of 
America is considered very important because it 
brings down the North Cabinet ! 

When he relates the conclusion of the Treaty of 
1783, the historian will no doubt pause for a moment 
and insert a solemn paragraph upon the event, which 
he will recognise as momentous. He will explain 
that colonies always secede as soon as they feel them- 
selves ripe for independence, and that the secession 
of America was no loss but rather a gain for England 
Hereupon he dismisses the subject, and henceforth 
you hear as little of America from him as you 
heard before the troubles began. New subjects have 
cropped up in the House of Commons. He is busy 
with the stormy debates on the India Bill, the 
struggle of young Pitt with the Coalition, the West- 
minster Election, and a little later the Regency 
Debates. For the English historian is as much 
fascinated by Parliament, and pursues all its move- 
ments with the same reverential attention, as the old 
historians of France show in following the personal 
movements of Louis XIV. When at last he reaches the 
wars of the French Revolution, and the great struggle of 
England with Napoleon, then indeed he leaves behind 
him finally the inglorious campaigns of Burgoyne 
and Cornwallis, and rejoices once more to have to 
record really great events and the deeds of great men. 

Now I do not think I risk anything by saying in 


contradiction to all this that the American Revolution, 
instead of being a tiresome unfortunate business 
which may be despatched in a very brief narrative, is 
an event not only of greater importance, but on an 
altogether higher level of importance than almost 
any other in modern English history, and that it is 
intrinsically much more memorable to us than our 
great war with Revolutionary France, which indeed 
only arrives to be at all comparable to it through the 
vast indirect consequences produced necessarily by a 
war on so large a scale and continued so long. No 
doubt it is much more stirring to read of the 
Nile, Trafalgar, the Peninsula and Waterloo, than of 
Bunker's Hill, Brandywine, Saratoga and Yorktown, 
and this not only because we like better to think of 
victory than of defeat, but also because in a military 
sense the struggle with France was greater and more 
interesting than that with America, and Napoleon, 
Nelson and Wellington were greater commanders 
than those who appeared in the American Revolution. 
But events take rank in history not as they are stir- 
ring or exciting, much less as they are gratifying to 
ourselves, but as they are pregnant with consequences. 
The American Revolution called into existence a 
new state, a state inheriting the language and tra- 
ditions of England, but taking in some respects a 
line of its own, in which it departed from the prece- 
dents not only of England but of Europe. This 
state was at the time not large in population, though 
it was very large in territory, and there were many 
chances that it would dissolve again and never grow 




to be very powerful. But it has not dissolved; it 
has advanced steadily, and is now, as I have said, 
superior not only in territory but in population also 
to every European state except Russia. Now it is by 
this result that I estimate the historic importance of 
'the Revolution, since it is with the rise and develop- 
ment of states that history deals. 

I have called attention to a series of events, the 
Spanish Armada, the colonisation of Virginia and 
New England, the growth of the English navy and 
trade, Cromwell's attack on Spain, the naval wars 
with Holland, the colonial expansion of France and 
decline of Holland, the maritime supremacy of 
England from the Peace of Utrecht, the duel of 
England and France for the New World. I have 
shown that these events taken together make up the 
expansion of England, that during the seventeenth 
century this development is necessarily somewhat 
hidden behind the domestic struggle of the nation 
with the Stuart kings, but that in the eighteenth 
century it ought to be brought into the foreground of 
history. Now in this series the next event is the 
Schism, the American Revolution, and the historic 
magnitude of this event is as much above that of 
most earlier events in our history as Greater Britain is 
greater than England. For its magnitude is not 
to be estimated by inquiring whether Howe and 
Cornwallis were great generals, or whether Wash- 
ington was or was not a man of genius ! And in 
universal history it is scarcely less great than in 
the history of England. The foundation in new 


territory of a state of fifty millions of men, which 
before many years will be a hundred millions, this 
by itself is far above the level of all previous history. 
No such event had occurred before in full daylight 
either in the New World or in the Old. Such a 
state has ten times the population that England had 
at the Revolution of 1688, and twice the population 
that France had at the Revolution of 1789. This 
fact, if it stood by itself, would be enough to show 
that time has brought us into a period of greater 
magnitudes and higher numbers than past history 
has dealt with. But it does not stand by itself. 
Bigness no doubt is not necessarily greatness, and in 
Asiatic history, though not in European, much larger 
figures may be met with, for India and China have a 
population not less than five times as large as the 
United States. But the peculiarity of this state lies 
as much in its quality as in its magnitude. Hitherto, 
unless we except the imperfectly known case of China, 
all states that have been of very large extent have 
been of low organisation. 

It had been the boast of England to show how 
liberty, such as had been known in the city-states of 
Greece and Italy, might be maintained in a nation- 
state of the modern type. Now the new state 
founded in America inherited this discovery, both 
the theory and the practice of it, and has devised all 
the modifications that were necessary for the applica- 
tion of it to a still larger territory. The consequence 
is that this new large state, while in extent it belongs 
to the same class as India or Russia, is in point of 


liberty at the opposite end of the scale. Hegel 
described the history of the world as a gradual 
development of human free-will. According to him 
there are some states in which only one man is free, 
others in which a few are free, others in which many. 
Now if we were to arrange states in a series according 
to the extension of the spirit of freedom, we should 
put most of the very large states of the world at the 
lower end of such a scale. But no one would hesitate 
bo put this very large state, the United States, at the 
opposite end, as being beyond question the state in 
which free-will is most active and alive in every 

Here is a result which is great, and not merely 
big ! But to Englishmen the American phenomenon 
ought to be infinitely more interesting and important 
than to the rest of mankind because of the unique 
relation in which they stand to it. There is no other 
example in history of two great states related to each 
other as England and the United States are related. 
True, the South American Republics have sprung 
from Spain, and Brazil from Portugal, in the same 
way, but they cannot be called great states; and 
besides, as I have said, the South American popula- 
tion is to a very large extent of Indian blood. But 
this great state, sprung from England and predomi- 
nantly English in blood, is not practically separated 
from us, as their former colonies are separated from 
Spain and Portugal, by remoteness of space ; but by 
reason of the immense expansion and ubiquitous 
activity of both nations is always close to us, always 


in contact with us, exerts a strong influence upon us 
by the strange career it runs and the novel experi- 
ments it tries, while at the same time it receives from 
us a great influence in many ways, but principally 
through our literature. 

There is no topic so pregnant as this of the mutual 
influence of the branches of the English race. The 
whole future of the planet depends upon it. But if 
so, what are we to think of the treatment which the 
American Revolution receives from our historians? 
One would think that the importance of the event 
in English history and in universal history were no 
concern of theirs. They despatch it very summarily. 
They treat us to a constitutional discussion of the 
right of taxation and to some glowing descriptions of 
Chatham's oratory; in due time they describe the 
war, apologise for our defeats, make the most of our 
successes, tell some anecdotes of Franklin, estimate 
the merits of Washington, and then dismiss the whole 
subject, as if it were tedious and did not interest 
them. A very minor question in the long Stuart 
controversy would occupy them longer, the adven- 
tures of Prince Charles Edward would rouse their 
imaginations more, the inquiry who was the author 
of Junius would excite a more eager curiosity. Is 
there not something wrong here ? Is it not evident 
that we have yet to learn what history is ; that what 
we have hitherto called history is not history at all, 
but ought to be called by some other name, perhaps 
biography, perhaps party politics ? History, I say, is 
not constitutional law, nor parliamentary tongue-fence, 


nor biography of great men, nor even moral philo- 
sophy. It deals with states, it investigates their rise 
and development and mutual influence, the causes 
which promote their prosperity or bring about their 

But in these lectures on the Expansion of England 
the American Revolution is to be discussed in one 
aspect only, viz. as the end of our first experiment in 
expansion. Like a bubble, Greater Britain expanded 
rapidly and then burst. It has since been expanding 
again. Can we avoid the obvious inference ? 

It is constantly repeated, as if it were beyond dis- 
pute, that the secession of the American colonies was 
an inevitable result of the natural law which prompts 
every colony, when it is ripe, to set up for itself, and 
that therefore the statesmen of George Ill's time 
who are responsible for it George Grenville, Charles 
Townshend, and Lord North can be charged with 
nothing more serious than hastening perhaps by a 
little an unavoidable catastrophe. Now on this head 
I need add but little to what I have said already. So 
long as a colony is regarded as a mere estate out of 
which the mother-country is to make a pecuniary 
profit, of course its allegiance is highly precarious, of 
course it will escape as soon as it can. In truth the 
illustration drawn from the grown-up son is not half 
strong enough for such a case. On that system a 
colony is not treated as a child but as a slave, and 
it will emancipate itself from such a yoke, not with 
gratitude as a grown-up son may do, but with in- 
dignation that it should ever, even in its weakness, 


have been treated so. The secession of the American 
colonies therefore was perhaps inevitable, but only 
because, and so far as, they were held under the old 
colonial system. 

I have explained how difficult it was at that time 
to substitute a better system, but a better system / 
exists, a better system is practicable now. There is ' 
now no reason why a colony after a certain time 
should desire emancipation ; nay, even in that age the 
practice of our Colonial Government was much better 
than the theory. We are not to suppose that the 
colonies rebelled against English rule simply as such. 
The Government against which they rebelled was 
that of George III. in his first twenty years; now 
that period stands marked in our domestic annals 
too for the narrow-mindedness and perverseness of 
Government. There was discontent at home as well 
as in the colonies. Mansfield on the one side of 
politics and Grenville on the other had just at that 
time given an interpretation of our liberties which 
deprived them of all reality. It was this new-fangled 
system, not the ordinary system of English govern- 
ment, which excited discontent everywhere alike, 
which provoked the Wilkes agitation in England at 
the same time as the colonial agitation beyond the 
Atlantic. But the malecontents in England had no 
such simple remedy as lay at the command of the 
malecontents of Massachusetts and Virginia. They 
could not repudiate the Government which roused 
their sense of injury. 

It was not then simply because they were colonies 



that our colonies rebelled. It was because they were 
colonies under the old colonial system, and at a moment 
when that system itself was administered in an unusu- 
ally narrow-minded and pedantic way. But I observe 
next that any general inference drawn from the con- 
duct of these colonies is open to objection, because 
they were not normal but very peculiar colonies. 

The modern idea of a colony is that it is a com- 
munity formed by the overflow of another community. 
Overcrowding and poverty in one country causes, we 
think, emigration to another country which is emptier 
and richer. I have explained that this was not the 
nature of our American colonies. England 1 on the 
one hand was then not overcrowded. On the other 
hand the eastern coast of North America, where the 
colonies were settled, was not specially attractive by 
its wealth. It was no Eldorado, no Potosi, and in 
the northern part it was even poor. Why then did 
colonists settle in it? They had one predominant 
motive, and it was the same which Moses alleged to 
Pharaoh for the Exodus of the Israelites. "We 
must go seven days' journey into the wilderness to 
offer a sacrifice unto the Lord our God." Eeligion 
impelled them. They wished to live on beliefs 
and to practise rites which were not tolerated in 
England. This indeed was not the case everywhere 
alike. Virginia of course was Anglican. But the 
New England colonies were Puritan, Pennsylvania 
was Quaker, Maryland was Catholic, while of South 

1 Compare the chapter in Adam Smith : Of the motives far 
establishing new colonies. 


Carolina we read J that " the Churchmen were not a 
third part of the inhabitants," and that "many 
various opinions had been taught by a multitude of 
teachers and expounders of all sorts and persuasions." 
Thus the old emigration was a real exodus that is, it 
was a religious emigration. Now this makes all the 
difference. The emigrant who goes out merely to 
make his fortune may possibly in time forget his 
native land ; but he is not likely to do so ; absence 
endears it to him, distance idealises it ; he desires to 
return to it when his money is made, he would gladly 
be buried in it. There is scarcely more than one 
thing that can break this spell, and that is religion. 
Religion indeed may turn emigration into exodus. 
Those who leave Troy carrying their gods with them 
can resist no doubt the yearning that draws them 
back ; they can build with confidence their Lavinium 
or their Alba, or even their Rome, in the new territory 
unhallowed before. For I always hold that religion 
is the great state-building principle; these colonists 
could create a new state because they were already a 
church, since the church, so at least I hold, is the 
soul of the state; where there is a church a state 
grows up in time ; but if you find a state which is 
not also in some sense a church, you find a state 
which is not long for this world. 

Now in this respect the American colonies were 

very peculiar. How is it possible to draw from their 

history any conclusion about colonies in general ? In 

particular how can you argue from their case to the 

1 Hildreth, ii. p. 232. 


case of our present colonies which have grown up 
since ? In those colonies there was from the outset a 
spirit driving them to separation from England, a 
principle attracting them and conglohing them into a 
new union among themselves. I have remarked how 
early this spirit showed itself in the New England 
colonies. No doubt it was not present in all. It 
was not present in Virginia, but when the colonial 
discontents, heated by the pedantry of Grenville and 
Lord North, burst into a flame, then was the moment 
when Virginia went over to New England, and the 
spirit of the Pilgrim Fathers found the power to turn 
offended colonists into a new nation. 

But what is to be found similar to this in our 
present colonies ? They have not sprung out of any 
religious exodus. Their founders carried no gods 
with them. On the contrary they go out into the 
wilderness of mere materialism, into territories where 
as yet there is nothing consecrated, nothing ideal. 
Where can their gods be but at home 1 If they in 
such circumstances can find within them the courage 
to stand out as state-builders, if they can have the 
heart to sever themselves from English history, from 
all traditions and memories of the island where their 
fathers lived for a thousand years, it will indeed be 
necessary to think that England is a name which 
possesses sadly little attractive power. 

I think then that we mistake the moral of the 

\ American Revolution, when we infer from it that all 
colonies and not merely colonies of religious refugees 

i under a bad colonial system fall off from the tree as 


soon as they ripen. And in like manner perhaps we I 
draw a wrong inference, and omit to draw the right 
inference, from the prosperity which the United 
States have enjoyed since the secession. I suppose 
there has never been in any community so much 
happiness, or happiness of a kind so little demoralis- 
ing, as in the United States. But the causes of this 
happiness are not political. They lie rooted much 
deeper than the political institutions of the country. 
If a philosopher were asked for a recipe to produce 
the greatest amount of pure happiness in a community 
he would say, Take a number of men whose char- 
acters have been formed during many generations by 
rational liberty, serious religion, and strenuous labour. 
Place these men in a wide territory, where no painful 
pressure shall reach them, and where prosperity shall 
be within the reach of all Adversity gives wisdom 
and strength, but with pain; prosperity gives pleasure, 
but relaxes the character. Adversity followed after a 
time by prosperity, this is the recipe for healthy 
happiness, for it gives pleasure without speedily 
relaxing energy. And it is a better recipe still if the 
prosperity at last given shall not be given too easily 
and unconditionally. Now these are the conditions 
which have produced American happiness. Characters 
formed in a temperate zone, by Teutonic liberty and 
Protestant religion ; prosperity conferred freely but 
in measure, and on the condition not only of labour 
but of the use of intelligence and ingenuity. 

This recipe will produce happiness, but only for a 
time, only as long as the population bears a low 


proportion to the extent of territory. For a long 
time it was supposed that America had some magic 
secret by which she avoided all the evils of Europe. 
The secret was simple ; prosperous conditions of life 
and strong characters. Of late years the Americans 
themselves have awakened from the dream that their 
country is never to be soiled with the crimes and 
follies of Europe. They have no enemies, but yet 
they have had a war on a scale as gigantic as their 
territory, which Mr. Wells reckons to have cost in 
four years a million lives and nearly two thousand 
millions of pounds sterling ; they have not kings, and 
yet we know that they have had regicide. Neverthe- 
less the reputation and the greatness of the United 
States stand now perhaps higher than ever. But 
insensibly their pretensions have changed their char- 
acter. Now it is said that no state was ever so 
powerful, that it is or will be the dominating state of 
the world ; in other words it is classed among other 
states, but at the head of them. Its pretension used 
to be wholly different. It used to claim to be unique 
in kind; to be a visible proof that the states of 
Europe with their vaunts of power, their haughty 
Governments, their wars and their debts, were on the 
wrong road altogether; that happiness and virtue 
hold a more modest path ; and that the best lot for a 
state is not to be great in history, but rather to have 
no history at all. 

American happiness then is in no great degree 
the consequence of secession. But does she owe 
to secession her immense greatness 1 


When we look back over the stages of her progress 
we are able easily to discover that she has been 
in several points remarkably favoured by fortune. 
Imagine for instance that the original colonies, instead 
of lying in a compact group along the coast, had been 
scattered over the Continent, and had been separated 
from one another by other settlements belonging to 
other European states. Such a difference might have 
made the growth of the Union impossible. Imagine 
again that the French colony of Louisiana, instead 
of failing miserably, had advanced steadily in the 
hundred years between its foundation and the Ameri- 
can Revolution. This colony embraced the valley of 
the Mississippi. Had it been successful it might 
easily have grown into a great French state, held 
together through its whole length by its immense 
river. Or again suppose it had passed into the 
hands of England ! It was Napoleon who, by selling 
Louisiana to the United States, made it possible for 
the Union to develop into the gigantic Power we see. 

Still it is evident that the United States has found 
the solution of that great problem of expansion on a 
vast scale, which we have seen all the five Western 
nations of Europe in succession failing to solve. We 
saw them starting with the notion of an indefinite 
extension of the state, but we saw them almost in a 
moment lose their hold of this conception and take 
up instead an extremely opposite conception, out of 
which grew the old colonial system. We saw them 
treat their colonies as public estates, of which the 
profits were to be secured to the population of the 


mother-country. We saw at the same time that this 
system could never be represented as anything but a 
makeshift, so that under it there always lurked the 
despair of any permanent possession of colonies. We 
saw, from this cause and from others, Empire after 
Empire in the New World dissolve. Our own first 
Empire was among these. But we have since come 
into possession of a new one. In the management of 
this we have been careful enough to avoid the old 
error. The old colonial system is gone. But in 
place of it no clear and reasoned system has been 
adopted. The wrong theory is given up, but what is 
the right theory 1 There is only one alternative. If 
the colonies are not, in the old phrase, possessions of 
England, then they must be a part of England ; and 
we must adopt this view in earnest. We must cease 
altogether to say that England is an island off the 
north-western coast of Europe, that it has an area of 
120,000 square miles and a population of thirty odd 
millions. We must cease to think that emigrants, 
when they go to colonies, leave England or are lost 
to England. We must cease to think that the history 
of England is the history of the Parliament that sits at 
Westminster, and that affairs which are not discussed 
there cannot belong to English history. When we 
have accustomed ourselves to contemplate the whole 
Empire together and call it all England, we shall see 
that here too is a United States. Here too is a 
great homogeneous people, one in blood, language, 
religion and laws, but dispersed over a boundless 
space. We shall see that, though it is held together 


by strong moral ties, it has little that can be called a 
constitution, no system that seems capable of resisting 
any severe shock. But if we are disposed to doubt 
whether any system can be devised capable of holding 
together communities so distant from each other, 
then is the time to recollect the history of the 
United States of America. For they have such a 
system. They have solved this problem. They have 
shown that in the present age of the world political 
unions may exist on a vaster scale than was possible 
in former times. No doubt our problem has diffi- 
culties of its own, immense difficulties. But the 
greatest of these difficulties is one which we make 
ourselves. It is the false preconception which we 
bring to the question, that the problem is insoluble, 
that no such thing ever was done or ever will be 
done; it is our misinterpretation of the American 

From that Revolution we infer that all distant 
colonies, sooner or later, secede from the mother- 
country. We ought to infer only that they secede 
when they are held under the old colonial system. 

"We infer that population overflowing from a country 
into countries on the other side of an ocean must 
needs break the tie that binds them to their original 
home, acquire new interests, and make the nucleus of 
a new State. We ought to infer only that refugees, 
driven across the ocean by religious exclusiveness and 
carrying with them strong religious ideas of a peculiar 
type, may make the nucleus of a new state. This 
remark is confirmed in an unexpected manner by the 


history of the secession of Southern and Central 
America from Spain and Portugal. Here, to be sure, 
there was Catholicism on both sides of the ocean ; but 
Gervinus remarks that in reality the religion of those 
regions was Jesuitism, and that accordingly the 
suppression of the Jesuits gave a moral shock to the 
population which he reckons among the leading causes 
of disruption. 

Lastly, we infer from the greatness of the United 
States since their secession that the division of states, 
when they become overlarge, is expedient. But the 
greatness of the United States is the best proof that 
a state may become immensely large and yet prosper. 
The Union is the great example of a system under 
which an indefinite number of provinces is firmly 
held together without any of the inconveniences 
which have been felt in our Empire. It is therefore 
the visible proof that those inconveniences are not 
inseparable from a large Empire, but only from the 
old colonial system. 

But the expansion of England has been twofold. 
Hitherto we have considered only the expansion of 
the English nation and state together by means of 
colonies. What are we to think of that other and 
much stranger expansion by which India with its 
vast population has passed under the rule of English- 




HISTORIANS are sometimes ridiculed for indulging 
in conjectures about what would have followed in 
history if some one event had fallen out differently. 
" So gloriously unpractical ! " we exclaim. Now it is 
not for the sake of practice, but for the sake of 
theory, that such conjectures are hazarded, and I 
think historians should deal in them much more than 
they do. It is an illusion to suppose that great 
public events, because they are on a grander scale, 
have something more fatally necessary about them 
than ordinary private events ; and this illusion 
enslaves the judgment. To form any opinion or 
estimate of a great national policy is impossible so 
long as you refuse even to imagine any other policy 
pursued. This remark is especially applicable to an 
event so vast and complex as the Expansion of 
England. Think for a moment, if there had been no 
connection of England with the New World ! How 
utterly different would have been the whole course 


of English history since the reign of Queen Elizabeth ! 
No Spanish Armada would have come against us, 
and there would have been no Drake and Hawkins to 
withstand it. No great English navy would have 
grown up. Blake would not have fought with Van 
Tromp and De Ruyter. The wars of the Long 
Parliament and Charles II. with Holland, the war of 
Cromwell with Spain, would never have taken place. 
The country would not have amassed the capital 
which enabled it to withstand and at last to humble 
Louis XIV. The great commercial corporations 
would not have arisen to balance the landed interest 
and transform the policy of the state. England 
would not have stood at the head of all nations in 
Queen Anne's reign, and we should have had a wholly 
and entirely different eighteenth century. Every- 
thing in short would be utterly unlike what it is; 
and you may be tempted to ridicule the whole 
speculation as unprofitable, because infinite. 

But yet it is the most practical of all speculations, 
and for this reason. All this vast expansion, all 
these prodigious accretions which have gathered 
round the original England in three centuries, are 
yet not so completely incorporate with England that 
we cannot contemplate shaking ourselves free from 
them and becoming again the plain England of Queen 
Elizabeth. The growth of our Empire may indeed 
have been in a certain sense natural ; Greater Britain, 
compared to old England, may seem but the full- 
grown giant developed out of the sturdy boy; but 
there is this difference, that the grown man does not 


and cannot think of becoming a boy again, whereas 
England both can and does consider the expediency 
of emancipating her colonies and abandoning India. 
We do not, as a matter of fact, think of Canada as 
we think of Kent, nor of Nova Scotia as of Scotland, 
nor of New South Wales as of Wales, nor of India 
as of Ireland. We can most easily conceive them 
separated from us, and, if we chose, we could most 
easily bring about the separation. Nay more, many 
authorities actually recommend us to do so. We are 
forced then to pass some judgment on the expansion 
of England considered as a whole. Is it a transient 
development, like the expansion of Spain ? Was it 
even a mistake from the beginning, a product of mis- 
directed energy ? Nations can and do make mistakes. 
They are guided often by blind passion or instinct, 
and there is no reason in the nature of things why 
their aberrations should not continue for ages and 
lead them infinitely far. And thus it is conceivable 
that England ought from the beginning to have 
resisted the temptations of the New World, that she 
ought to have remained the self-contained island she 
was in Shakspeare's time " in a great pool a swan's 
nest " ; or at least that it would have been fortunate 
for her to have lost her Empire as France did, or 
when she lost her first colonial Empire not to have 
founded a new one. 

But if this be so, or even if it may be so, what an 
enormous, intricate, and at the same time what a 
momentous problem is before us 1 If we have thus 
wandered from the right path, or if only we ought 


now to strike into a wholly new path, how prodigi- 
ously important is the fact ! How much it surpasses 
in importance all those questions of home politics 
which absorb our attention so much ! Many of ua 
elude this consideration by a very confused argument. 
We say, "Let us mind our own affairs and not 
concern ourselves with remote countries, which are 
beyond our comprehension, and which it was a mis- 
fortune for us ever to become connected with." But 
if this really was a misfortune, if our empire really 
is so much too large for us, then the question is 
infinitely more urgent and instant than if it were 
otherwise. For then we cannot too soon resolve to 
free ourselves from an encumbrance which will 
assuredly entail disaster upon us; then we ought 
to devote ourselves to the vast and delicate problem 
of destroying our Empire, until it is fairly achieved. 
And thus in any case we have here by far the largest 
of all political questions, for if our Empire is capable 
of further development, we have the problem of 
discovering what direction that development should 
take, and if it is a mischievous encumbrance, we 
have the still more anxious problem of getting rid of 
it, and in either case we deal with territories so vast 

uand populations which grow so rapidly that their 

I destinies are infinitely important 

I say, this is a political problem, but is it not also 
a historical problem? Yes, and the main reason 
why I have chosen this subject is that it illustrates 
better than any other subject my view of the con- 
nection between history and politics. The ultimate 


object of all my teaching here is to establish this 
fundamental connection, to show that politics and 
history are only different aspects of the same study. 
There is a vulgar view of politics which sinks them 
into a mere struggle of interests and parties, and 
there is a foppish kind of history which aims only 
at literary display, which produces delightful books 
hovering between poetry and prose. These perver- 
sions, according to me, come from an unnatural 
divorce between two subjects which belong to each 
other. Politics are vulgar when they are not 
liberalised by history, and history fades into mere 
literature when it loses sight of its relation to practical 
politics. In order to show this clearly, it has seemed 
to me a good plan to select a topic which belongs 
most evidently to history and to politics at once. 
Such a topic pre-eminently is Greater Britain. What 
can be more plainly political than the questions 
What ought to be done with India ? What ought to 
be done with our Colonies ? But they are questions 
which need the aid of history. We cannot delude 
ourselves here, as we do in home questions of fran- 
chise or taxation, so as to fancy that common sense 
or common morality will suffice to lead us to a true 
opinion. We cannot suppose ourselves able to form 
a judgment, for example, about Indian affairs without 
some special study, because we cannot help seeing 
that the races of India are far removed from ourselves 
in all physical, intellectual, and moral conditions. 
Here then we see how politics merge into history. 
But I am even more anxious to show you by this 


example how history merges into politics. Tho 
foundation of this Empire of ours is a comparatively 
modern event. If we leave out of account the 
colonies we have lost and think only of the Empire 
we still possess, we think of an Empire which was 
founded almost entirely in the reigns of George II. 
and George III. Now this is the period which 
students avoid as being too modern for study ; this 
is the period which classic historians neglect, and 
which accordingly passes in the popular mind for an 
uneventful period of uniform prosperity and civilis- 
ation. I have complained that our historians all 
grow languid as they approach this period, that 
their descriptions of it are featureless, and that 
accordingly they lead their readers to think of 
English history as leading up to nothing, as a story 
without a moral, or as like the Heart of Midlothian, 
of which the whole last volume is dull and superfluous. 
You see then how I think this evil may be cured. I 
show you mighty events in the future, events of 
which, as future, we know as yet nothing but that 
they must come, and that they must be mighty. 
These events are some further development in the 
relation of England to her colonies and also in her 
relation to India. Some further development, I say, 
for evidently the present phase is not definitive ; but 
what the development will be we cannot yet know. 
Will there be a great disruption ? Will Canada and 
Australia become independent States? Shall we 
abandon India, and will some native Government at 
present almost inconceivable take the place of the 


Viceroy and his Council ? Or will the opposite of all 
this happen ? Will Greater Britain rise to a higher 
form of organisation 1 Will the English race, which 
is divided hy so many oceans, making a full use of 
modern scientific inventions, devise some organisation 
like that of the United States, under which full 
liberty and solid union may be reconciled with 
unbounded territorial extension? And, secondly, 
shall we succeed in solving a still harder problem 1 
Shall we discover some satisfactory way of governing 
India, some modus vivendi for two such extreme 
opposites as a ruling race of Englishmen in a country 
which they cannot colonise, and a vast population 
of Asiatics with immemorial Asiatic traditions and 
ways of life ? We do not know, I say, how these 
problems will be solved, but we may be certain that 
they will be solved somehow, and we may be certain 
from the nature of the problems that the solution of 
them will be infinitely momentous. This then is 
the goal towards which England is travelling. We 
are not then to think, as most historians seem to do, 
that all development has ceased in English history, 
and that we have arrived at a permanent condition 
of security and prosperity. Not at all; the move- 
ment may be less perceptible because it is on a much 
larger scale; but the changes and the struggles 
when they come and they will come will be on a 
larger scale also. And when the crisis arrives, it 
will throw a wonderful light back upon our past 
history. All that amazing expansion which has 
taken place since the reign of George II., and which 


we read of with a kind of bewildered astonishment, 
will begin then to impress us differently. At present 
when we look at the boundless extent of Canada and 
Australia given up to our race, we are astonished, 
but form no definite opinion. When we read of the 
conquest of India, two hundred millions of Asiatics 
conquered by an English trading company, we are 
astonished and admire, but we form no definite 
opinion. All seems so strange and anomalous that 
it almost ceases to be interesting. We do not know 
how to judge of it nor what to think of it. It will 
be otherwise then. Time will reveal what was really 
solid in all this success, and what was not so. We 
shall know what to think of that great struggle of 
the eighteenth century for the possession of the New 
World, when the event has shown, either that a 
great and solid World-State has been produced, or 
that an ephemeral trade-empire, like that of old 
Spain, rose to fall again; either that a solid union 
between the West and East, fruitful in the greatest 
and profoundest results, was effected in India, or 
that Clive and Hastings set on foot a monstrous 
enterprise which, after a century of apparent success, 
ended in failure. 

This lesson time will teach to all alike. But 
history ought surely in some degree, if it is worth 
anything, to anticipate the lessons of time. We 
shall all no doubt be wise after the event ; we study 
history that we may be wise before the event. Why 
should we not now form an opinion about the destiny 
of our colonies and of our Indian Empire? That 


destiny, we may be sure, will not be decreed 
arbitrarily. It will be the result of the working 
of those laws which it is the object of political 
science to discover. When the event takes place, 
this will be visible enough; all will see more or 
less clearly that what has happened could not but 
happen. But if so, the students of political science 
ought to be able to foresee, at least in outline, the 
event while it is still future. 

Now, do not these considerations set the more 
recent history of England in a new light? I have 
shown you England in the latter part of the sixteenth 
century entering upon a wholly new path. I have 
traced the stages of its progress in this path through 
the seventeenth century and the prodigious results 
which followed in the eighteenth. I have pointed 
out that we are still in a state of things which is 
evidently provisional, of which some great modifica- 
tion is evidently at hand. It follows from all this 
that the modern part of English history presents to 
us a great problem, one of the greatest problems, in 
political science. And thus I show you history 
merging in politics. I show you the reigns of George 
II. and George III not as a mere bygone period, 
whose quaint manners and fashions it is a delightful 
amusement to revive with the imagination, but as a 
storehouse of the materials by which we are to solve 
the greatest and most urgent of all political problems. 
In order to understand what is to become of our 
Empire we must study its nature, the causes which 
support it, the roots by which its life is fed ; and to 


study its nature is to study its history, and especially 
the history of its beginning. 

We have been told for a long time past by fashion- 
able writers that history has made itself too solemn 
and pompous, that it ought to deal in minute, familiar, 
vivid details ; in fact that it ought to be written just 
in the style of a novel. I will pause once more to 
tell you what I think of this view, which has been 
of late so prevalent. I do not deny the criticism on 
which it is founded. I fully admit that history 
should not be solemn and pompous, and I admit that 
for a long time it was both. But solemnity is one 
thing, and seriousness is quite another. This school 
argue that because history should not be solemn, 
therefore it should not be serious. They deny that 
history can establish any solid or important truths ; 
they have no conception that any great discoveries 
can ever come out of it. They can only see that it is 
exquisitely entertaining and delightful to call the 
past into life again, to see our ancestors in their 
costume as they lived, and to surprise them in the 
very act of doing their famous deeds. I find their 
theory stated with the most ingenuous frankness by 
Thackeray in the opening to his lecture on Steele, a 
passage which almost every one has read, and I fancy 
almost every one has thought very shrewd and true. 

He says, " What do we look for in studying the 
history of a past age? Is it to learn the political 
transactions and characters of the leading public 
men 1 is it to make ourselves acquainted with the life 
and being of the time? If we set out with the 


former grave purpose, where is the truth, and who 
believes that he has it entire ? " And then he goes on 
to declare that in his opinion the solemn statements 
which we find in books of history about public affairs 
are all nonsense, and would not bear any sceptical 
examination. He refers by way of example to 
Swift's Conduct of the Allies and Coxe's Life of 
Marlborough, and you see that it is from works of 
that extremely old-fashioned cast that he has formed 
his idea of what history is. But now, political 
history being all nonsense, what are we to substitute 
for it? 

Thackeray tells us that we are " to make ourselves 
acquainted with the life and being of the time." 
What does this mean ? He goes on to explain. " As 
we read in these delightful volumes of the Tatler 
and Spectator, the past age returns, the England of 
our ancestors is revivified. The Maypole rises in the 
Strand again in London, the churches are thronged 
with daily worshippers ; the beaux are gathering in 
the coffee-houses, the gentry are going to the drawing- 
room, the ladies are thronging to the toy-shops, the 
chairmen are jostling in the streets, the footmen are 
running with links before the chariots or fighting 
round the theatre doors. I say the fiction carries a 
greater amount of truth in solution than the volume 
which purports to be all true. Out of the fictitious 
book I get the expression of the life of the time ; 
of the manners, of the movement, the dress, the 
pleasures, the laughter, the ridicules of society the 
old times live again and I travel in the old country 


of England. Can the heaviest historian do more for 

That a great novelist should think thus is in 
itself almost a matter of course. The great engineer 
Brindley, being asked for what purpose he supposed 
rivers to have been created, answered without the 
least hesitation, To feed canals ! Thackeray, being 
asked why Queen Anne lived and the English under 
the Duke of Maryborough fought the French, answers 
candidly, It was that I might write my delightful 
novel of Esmond. Of course he thought so, but how 
could he, with his keen sense of humour, venture to 
say so ? You see, he appeals to our scepticism. He 
does not deny that history might be important if 
it were true, but he says it is not true. He does 
not believe a word of it. 

Well ! if so, what should we do 1 Must we take 
the course he points out to us? Must we give up 
history as a serious study but keep it as a delightful 
amusement, turn away from European wars and 
watch the ladies thronging to the toy-shops, cease 
studying what sort of government our ancestors had 
and inquire rather what they had for dinner ? I tell 
you there is another and a much better course, which 
leads in quite the opposite direction. If history for a 
long time has been, as it has been, untrue and un- 
satisfactory, correct it, amend it. Make it true and 
trustworthy. There is no reason in the world why 
this should not be done, or rather it has been done 
already for the greater part of history, and only 
remains undone in those more recent periods which 


students have neglected. It seems not to be generally 
known how much the study of history has been 
transformed of late years. Those charges of untrust- 
worthiness, of pompous and hollow conventionality, 
which are vulgarly made against history, used to be 
well-grounded once, but are in the main groundless 
now. History has been in great part rewritten ; in 
great part it is now true, and lies before science as a 
mass of materials out of which a political doctrine 
may be deduced. It is not now pompous and solemn, 
but it is thoroughly serious, much more serious than 
ever. Here then is the alternative which lies before 
you. Instead of ceasing to regard history seriously, 
as Thackeray advises you, regard it more seriously 
than before. Instead of holding that you cannot 
find the truth, and therefore may as well cease to seek 
it, consider that the truth is hard to find, and there- 
fore must be sought all the more diligently, all the 
more laboriously. 

For observe that if once we grant that historic 
truth is attainable, and attainable it is, then there 
can be no further dispute about its supreme im- 
portance. It deals with facts of the largest and most 
momentous kind, with the causes of the decay and 
growth of Empires, with war and peace, with the 
sufferings or happiness of millions. It is by this con- 
sideration that I merge history in politics. I tell 
you that when you study English history you study 
not the past of England only, but her future. It is 
the welfare of your country, it is your whole interest 
as citizens, that is in question while you study 


history. How it is so I illustrate by putting before 
you this subject of the Expansion of England. I 
show you that there is a vast question ripening for 
decision, upon which almost the whole future of our 
country depends. In magnitude this question far sur- 
passes all other questions which you can ever have 
to discuss in political life. And yet it is altogether 
a historical question. The investigation of it requires 
not only some knowledge, but I may almost say a 
full knowledge of the modern history of England. 
For, as I have pointed out, England has been entirely 
engaged for the last three centuries in this expansion 
into Greater Britain. If therefore you would discern 
in outline the future of Greater Britain, you will have 
to master almost the whole history of England in the 
last three centuries. Only enter upon these inquiries, 
only undertake to make up your minds upon the 
colonial question and the Indian question ; you will 
find that you are led back from question to question 
and from one department of affairs to another, until 
you discover that these two questions bring the whole 
modern history of England in their train. And not 
only is this one way of grasping English history, 
but it is the best way. For in history everything 
depends upon turning narrative into problems. So 
long as you think of history as a mere chronological 
narrative, so long you are in the old literary groove 
which leads to no trustworthy knowledge, but only 
to that pompous conventional romancing of which 
all serious men are tired. Break the drowsy spel] 
of narrative ; ask yourself questions ; set yourself 


problems ; your mind will at once take up a new 
attitude ; you will become an investigator ; you will 
cease to be solemn and begin to be serious. Now 
modern English history breaks up into two grand 
problems, the problem of the colonies and the 
problem of India. 

Moreover, all those considerations which make the 
universal study of history imperative in all countries 
where there is popular government, operate in 
England far more strongly than in any other 
country. For this immense expansion of our race 
has the effect of making English politics most 
bewilderingly difficult. I take it that every other 
country France, Germany, the United States, every 
country except perhaps Russia has a simple problem 
to solve compared with that which is set before 
England. Most of those states are compact and 
solid, scarcely less compact, though so much larger, 
than the city-states of antiquity. They can only be 
attacked at home, and therefore their armies are a kind 
of citizen soldiery. Now, distant dependencies destroy 
this compactness, and make the national interest 
hard to discern and hard to protect Because of our 
scattered colonies it is easy for an enemy to strike at 
us. If we were at war with the United States, we 
should feel it in Canada ; if with Russia, in Afghan- 
istan. But this external difficulty is less serious than 
the internal difficulties which arise in a scattered 
empire. How to give a moral unity to vast countries 
separated from each other by half the globe, even 
when they are inhabited in the main by one nation ! 


But even this is not the greatest of the anxieties of 
England. For besides the colonies, we have India. 
Here at least there is no community of race or 
of religion. Here that solid basis which is formed 
by immigration and colonisation is almost entirely 
wanting. Here you have another problem not less 
vast, not less difficult, and much less hopeful, than 
that of the colonies. Either problem by itself is as 
much as any nation ever took in hand before. It 
seems really too much that both should fall on the 
same nation at the same time. 

Consider how distracting must be the effect upon 
the public mind of these two opposite questions. The 
colonies and India are in opposite extremes. What- 
ever political maxims are most applicable to the one, 
are most inapplicable to the other. In the colonies 
everything is brand-new. There you have the most 
progressive race put in the circumstances most favour- 
able to progress. There you have no past and an 
unbounded future. Government and institutions 
are all ultra-English. All is liberty, industry, in- 
vention, innovation, and as yet tranquillity. Now if 
this alone were Greater Britain, it would be homo- 
geneous, all of a piece; and, vast and boundless as 
the territory is, we might come to understand its 
affairs. But there is at the same time another 
Greater Britain, surpassing this in population though 
not in territory, and it is everything which this is 
not. India is all past and, I may almost say, has no 
future. What it will come to the wisest man is 
afraid to conjecture, but in the past it opens vistas 


into a fabulous antiquity. All the oldest religions, 
all the oldest customs, petrified as it were. No form 
of popular government as yet possible. Everything 
which Europe, and still more the New World, has 
outlived still flourishing in full vigour ; superstition, 
fatalism, polygamy, the most primitive priestcraft, the 
most primitive despotism; and threatening the northern 
frontier the vast Asiatic steppe with its Osbegs and Tur- 
comans. Thus the same nation which reaches one 
hand towards the future of the globe and assumes the 
position of mediator between Europe and the New 
World, stretches the other hand towards the remotest 
past, becomes an Asiatic conqueror, and usurps the 
succession of the Great Mogul. 

How can the same nation pursue two lines of 
policy so radically different without bewilderment, be 
despotic in Asia and democratic in Australia, be in 
the East at once the greatest Mussulman Power in 
the world and the guardian of the property of 
thousands of idol-temples, and at the same time in 
the West be the foremost champion of free thought 
and spiritual religion, stand out as a great military 
Imperialism to resist the march of Russia in Central 
Asia at the same time that it fills Queensland and 
Manitoba with free settlers? Never certainly did 
any nation, since the world began, assume anything 
like so much responsibility. Never did so many 
vast questions in all parts of the globe, questions 
calling for all sorts of special knowledge and special 
training, depend upon the decision of a single public. 
It must be confessed that this public bears its respon- 


sibility lightly ! It does not even study colonial and 
Indian questions. It does not consider them in- 
teresting, except in those rare cases when they come 
to the foreground of politics. When the fate of a 
Ministry is concerned they are found intensely 
interesting, but the public does not consider them 
interesting so long as only the population of India, 
the destiny of a vast section of the planet, and the 
future of the English state itself, are concerned. As 
to India, Macaulay writes thus : " It might have 
been expected that every Englishman who takes any 
interest in any part of history would be anxious to 
know how a handful of his countrymen, separated 
from their home by an immense ocean, subjugated in 
the course of a few years one of the greatest empires 
in the world. Yet unless we greatly err, this subject 
is to most readers not only insipid but positively 

The acquisition of India by England, as part of 
that expansion which in the last two centuries has so 
profoundly modified our state, will be examined in 
the succeeding lectures. 



As formerly the Colonial Empire, so now the Indian 
Empire is to be considered only so far as it illustrates 
the general law of expansion which prevails in the 
modern part of English history. It will be considered 
not in itself, but only in its relation to our own 
state. It will be considered historically that is, in 
the causes which produced it ; but also politically 
that is, in regard to its value or stability. 

From this point of view we shall not find it 
convenient to observe chronological order. Our 
acquisition of India was made blindly. Nothing 
great that has ever been done by Englishmen was 
done so unintentionally, so accidentally, as the conquest 
of India. There has indeed been little enough of 
calculation or contrivance in our colonisation. When 
our first settlers went out to Virginia and New 
England, it was not intended to lay the foundations of 
a mighty republican state. But here the event has 
differed from the design only in degree. We did 


intend to establish a new community, and we even 
knew that it would be republican in its tendency; 
what was hidden from us was only its immense 
magnitude. But in India we meant one thing, and 
did quite another. Our object was trade, and in this 
we were not particularly successful War with the 
native states we did not think of at all till a 
hundred years after our first settlement, and then 
we thought only of such war as might support our 
trade; after this time again more than half a cen- 
tury passed before we thought of any considerable 
territorial acquisitions; the nineteenth century had 
almost begun before the policy of acquiring an 
ascendency over the native states was entered upon ; 
and our present supreme position cannot be said to 
have been attained before the Governor-Generalship 
of Lord Dalhousie little more than a quarter of a 
century ago. All along we have been looking one 
way and moving another. In a case like this the 
chronological method of study is the worst that can be 
chosen. If we were to trace the history of the East 
India Company from year to year, carefully putting 
ourselves at the point of view of the Directors, we 
should be doing all in our power to blind ourselves. 
For it has not been the will of the Directors, but 
other forces overruling their will, forces against 
which they struggled in vain, by which the Indian 
Empire has been brought into existence. For this 
reason it is almost necessary, as for other reasons it 
is convenient, to begin at the other end, and before 
considering how the Empire grew to its present 


greatness to inquire what at the present moment it 
actually is. 

We call this Empire a conquest, in order to mark 
the fact that it was not acquired in any degree by 
settlement or colonisation, but by a series of wars 
ending in cessions of territory by the native Powers 
to the East India Company. But let us be careful 
how we take for granted that it is a conquest in any 
more precise sense of the word. 

Above I criticised the term "possessions of 
England," which is so commonly applied to the 
colonies. 1 asked, if by England be meant the people 
inhabiting England and by the colonies certain 
English people living beyond the sea, in what sense 
can one of these populations be said to belong to the 
other? Or if by England you mean the English 
Government, which is also ultimately the Govern- 
ment of the colonies, why should we speak of the 
subjects of a Government as its possession or pro- 
perty, unless indeed they became its subjects by 
conquest ? Now this criticism does not directly apply 
to India, because India did come under the Queen's 
government by conquest. India therefore may be 
called a possession of England in a sense which is not 
applicable to the colonies. Nevertheless the word con- 
quest, which, like most of the vocabulary of war, has 
come down to us from primitive barbaric times, may 
easily be misunderstood. We may still ask in what 
sense England can be said to possess India. What 
we possess we devote in some manner to our own 
enjoyment. If I own land, I either take the profits 


of the harvest, or, if I let the land to a farmer, I get 
rent from it. And in primitive times the conquest 
of a country was usually followed by possession in 
some literal sense. Sometimes the conquerors actu- 
ally became landlords of the conquered territory or 
of part of it, as in that conquest of Palestine which 
we read of in the Book of Joshua, or in those Roman 
conquests where a certain extent of confiscated land 
was often granted out to a number of Roman citizens. 
Now assuredly India is not a conquered country in 
this sense. England has not seized lands in India, 
and after displacing the native proprietors assigned 
them to Englishmen. 

There is another sense in which we may conceive 
the condition of a conquered country. We may 
think of it as tributary or paying tribute. Only we 
must be careful how we understand the expression. 
If it merely means that the people pay a tax, in other 
words, that they meet the expense of their own govern- 
ment or of the army that protects their frontier, there 
is nothing in this peculiar to a conquered people. 
Almost every people in some form or other pays 
the expense of its own government. If the word 
" tributary " is to be equivalent to " conquered " or 
" dependent " it must mean paying something over 
and above the expense of its government. We have 
an example of such a tribute in modern Egypt. The 
government of Egypt is in the hands of a Khedive 
who pays himself handsomely out of the pockets of 
the people ; but Egypt is tributary to the Sultan of 
Turkey, that is, it pays to him a sum which does not 


in any shape return to the country, but simply marks 
its relation of dependence upoii the Sultan. 

Such a tribute as this would mark that the country 
which paid it was a possession of the country which 
received it, because it seems analogous to the rent 
which a tenant farmer pays to the landowner. Is 
India then tributary in this sense to England? 
Certainly not, at least not directly or avowedly. 
Taxes are raised of course in India, as taxes are 
raised in England, but India is no more tributary 
than England itself. The money drawn from India 
is spent upon the government of India, and no money 
is levied beyond what is supposed to be necessary for 
this purpose. 

Of course it may be and often has been argued 
that India is in many ways sacrificed to England, and 
in particular that money is under colourable pretexts 
extorted from her. I am not now concerned with this 
question, because I am inquiring simply what is the 
relation established by law between India and 
England, and not how far that relation may by 
abuse have been perverted. India then is not a pos- 
session of England in the sense of being legally tribu- 
tary to England, any more than any of our colonies 
are so. 

The truth is that, though the present relation 
between India and England was historically created 
by war, yet England does not, at least openly, claim 
any rights over India in virtue of this fact. In the 
Queen's proclamation of 1st November 1858, by 
which the open assumption of the government by the 


Queen was announced, occur the express words, " We 
hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian 
territories by the same obligations of duty which bind 
us to all our other subjects." That is, conquest 
confers no peculiar rights, or India is not for practical 
purposes a conquered country. 

In fact, though the advance of civilisation has not 
as yet abolished wars nor even perhaps diminished 
the frequency of them, yet it has very much trans- 
formed their character. Conquest is nominally still 
possible, but the word has changed its meaning. It 
does not now mean spoliation or the acquisition of 
any oppressive lordship, so that the temptation to* 
make conquests is now very much diminished. Thus 
our possession of India imposes upon us vast and 
almost intolerable responsibilities; this is evident; 
but it is not at once evident that we reap any benefit 
from it. 

We must therefore dismiss from our minds the 
idea that India is in any practical sense of the word 
a possession of England. In ordinary language the 
two notions of property and government are mixed 
up in a way that produces infinite confusion. When 
we speak of India as " our magnificent dependency " 
or " the brightest jewel in the English diadem, " we 
use metaphors which have come down to us from 
primitive ages and from a state of society which has 
long passed away. India does indeed depend on 
England in the sense that England determines her 
condition and her policy and that she is governed by 
Englishmen, but not in the sense that she renders 


service to England or makes England directly richer 
or more powerful. And thus with respect to India 
as with respect to the colonies, the question confronts 
us on the threshold of the subject, What is the use of 
it? Why do we take the trouble and involve our- 
selves in the anxiety and responsibility of governing 
two hundred millions of people in Asia ? 

Now in respect to the colonies I argued that this 
question, however naturally it may suggest itself, is 
perverse, unless it can be shown that our colonies are 
too remote either to give or receive any advantage 
from their connection with us. For they are of our 
own blood, a mere extension of the English nationality 
into new lands. If these lands were contiguous to 
England, it would seem a matter of course that the 
English population as it increases should occupy 
them, and evidently desirable that it should do so 
without a political separation. As they are not 
contiguous but remote, a certain difficulty arises, but 
it is a difficulty which in these days of steam and 
electricity does not seem insurmountable. Now you 
see that this argument rests entirely upon the com- 
munity of blood between England and her colonies. 
It does not therefore apply to India. Two races 
could scarcely be more alien from each other than the 
English and the Hindus. Comparative philology has 
indeed discovered one link that had never been 
suspected before. The language of the prevalent race 
of India is indeed of the same family as our own 
language. But in every other respect there is extreme 
alienation. Their traditions do not touch ours at any 


point. Their religion is further removed from our 
own even than Mohammedanism. 

Our colonies, as I pointed out, were in the main 
planted in the emptier parts of the globe, so that 
their population is for the most part either entirely 
English or predominantly so. I pointed out that 
this was not the case with the colonies of Spain in 
Central and Southern America, where the Spanish 
settlers lived in the midst of a larger population of 
native Indians, whom they reduced to a kind of 
serfdom. Here then are two kinds of dependency, 
of which the one is much more closely cognate to the 
mother-country than the other. But both are con- 
nected by real ties of blood with the mother-country. 
Now India belongs to neither class, because its 
population has no tie of blood whatever with the 
population of England. Even if colonies had gone 
out from England to India, they must have continued 
insignificant in comparison to the enormous native 
population; but there have been no such colonies. 
England is separated from India by one of the strong- 
est barriers that nature could set up between the two 
countries. Nature has made the colonisation of India 
by Englishmen impossible by giving her a climate in 
which, as a rule, English children cannot grow up. 

And thus, while the connection of England with 
her colonies is in the highest degree natural, her 
connection with India seems at first sight at least to 
be in the highest degree unnatural. There is no 
natural tie whatever between the two Countries. No 
community of blood ; no community of religion, for 


we come as Christians into a population divided 
between Brahminism and Mohammedanism. And 
lastly, no community of interest, except so much 
as there must be between all countries, viz. the 
interest that each has to receive the commodities of 
the other. For otherwise what interest can England 
and India have in common ? The interests of England 
lie in Europe and in the New World. India, so far 
as so isolated a country can have foreign interests at 
all, looks towards Afghanistan, Persia, and Central 
Asia, countries with which, except through India, we 
should scarcely ever have had any communication. 

The English conquest of India has produced results 
even more strange than the Spanish conquest of 
America, though the circumstances of it were, I 
think, considerably less astonishing and romantic. 
Whether we think of it with satisfaction or not, it is 
the most striking and remarkable incident in the 
modern part of the history of England. In a history 
of modern England it deserves a prominent place in 
the main narrative, and not the mere digression or 
occasional notice which our historians commonly 
assign to it. But how important it is we shall not 
see so long as we only consider its strangeness ; we 
must also bear in mind its enormous magnitude. 
Much has been written to show the immensity of the 
task we have undertaken in India ; yet with surpris- 
ingly little effect. Figures seem only to paralyse the 
imagination when they pass a certain magnitude, and 
thus, while in our domestic politics we grow the more 
interested the larger the question at issue is shown to 


be, we cease to be interested when our Empire with 
its much vaster questions is brought before us. Point 
out that this Indian Empire is something like what 
the Roman Empire was at its greatest extension, and 
that we are responsible for it; the only effect pro- 
duced is a disinclination to attend to the subject. Can 
we seriously justify this 1 ? I fancy we are in some 
degree misled by an impression that in the outlying 
parts of the world large dimensions are a matter 
of course and make no difference. Thus if India is 
large, Canada and Australia are still larger, and yet we 
do not find that the affairs of Canada and Australia 
require much of our attention. True, but we over- 
look an important distinction. In Canada and 
Australia the territory is vast, but the population 
exceedingly small ; the country also is not merely 
distant from us, as India is, but also distant from all 
the great Powers with which we might possibly en- 
gage in war. India really belongs to quite a different 
category of countries. It is a country as populous 
and in some large regions more populous than the 
most thickly peopled parts of Europe. It is a country 
in which we have over and over again had to wage 
war on a grand scale. Thus in the second Mahratta 
war of 1818 Lord Hastings brought into the field 
more than a hundred thousand men. And, distant 
as it may seem, it is by no means out of the range of 
European politics. Thus throughout the eighteenth 
century it was part of the chess-board on which 
France and England played out their game of skill. 
Again since about 1830 India, and India almost alone, 


has involved us in differences with Russia, and given 
us a most intimate interest in the solution of the 
Eastern Question. 

India therefore is rather to be compared to the 
countries of Europe than to the outlying, thinly- 
peopled countries of the New World. Let us then 
contemplate a little the magnitude of this Empire, 
and take some pains to realise it by comparing it to 
other magnitudes with which we are familiar. Let 
us think then of Europe without Russia that is, of 
all that system of countries which a few centuries 
ago formed almost the whole scene of civilised history, 
all the European countries of the Roman Empire 
plus the whole of Germany, the Slavonic countries 
which are outside Russia, and the Scandinavian 
countries. India may be roughly said to be about 
equal both in area and population to all these coun- 
tries taken together. This Empire, which we now 
govern from Downing Street, and whose budget forms 
the annual annoyance and despair of the House of 
Commons, is considerably larger and more populous 
than the Empire of Napoleon when it had reached 
its utmost extent. And, as I have said already, it is 
an Empire of the same kind, not some vast empty 
region like the old Spanish Dominion in South 
America, but a crowded territory with an ancient 
civilisation, with languages, religions, philosophies 
and literatures of its own. 

I think perhaps it may assist conception if I split 
up this immense total into parts. The reason, no 
doubt, why the thought of all Europe together im- 


presses us so much, is that there passes before the 
mind a series of six or seven great states which must 
be added together to make up Europe. Our con- 
ception of Europe is the sum of our conceptions of 
England, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and 
Greece. Perhaps the name India would strike as 
majestically upon the ear, if in like manner it were to 
us the name of a grand complex total Let me say 
then that in the first place it has one region which in 
population far exceeds any European State except 
Russia, and exceeds the United States. This is the 
region governed by the Lieutenant - Governor of 
Bengal. Its population is stated actually to exceed 
66,000,000 on an area considerably less than that of 
France. Then come two other regions which may 
be compared with European States. These are the 
North- West Provinces, which answer pretty well to 
Great Britain without Ireland, being in area some- 
what smaller, but somewhat more populous. Next 
comes the Madras Presidency, larger in area being 
about equal to Great Britain with Ireland but less 
populous, being about equal in population to the 
Kingdom of Italy. The population in all these three 
cases rises far above 20,000,000. Then come two 
provinces in which it approaches 20,000,000, the 
Punjab, which is somewhat superior in population to 
Spain, and the Bombay Presidency, which is slightly 
inferior, though in area it is equal to Great Britain 
and Ireland. In the next class come Oude, which is 
rather superior, and the Central Provinces, which are 
about equal, to Belgium and Holland taken together. 


These provinces, together with some others of less 
importance, make up that part of India which is 
directly under English government. But the region 
which is practically under English supremacy is still 
larger. When we speak of the Empire of Napo- 
leon, we do not think only of the territory directly 
governed by his officials; we reckon -in States 
nominally sovereign, which were practically under 
his ascendency. Thus the Confederation of the Rhine 
consisted of a number of German states which had by 
a formal act consented to regard Napoleon as their 
Protector. Now England has a similar dependent 
confederation in India, and this makes an additional 
item which, reckoned by population, is superior to 
the United States. 

Is it possible that besides our terrible hive of 
population at home, giving rise to most anxious 
politics, and besides our vast colonial Empire, we are 
also responsible for another Empire densely peopled 
and about equal to Europe 1 Is it possible that about 
this Empire we neither have, nor care to acquire, the 
most rudimentary information ? Would it be possible 
for us, even if we did try to acquire such information, 
to form a rational opinion about affairs so remote and 
complicated ? 

There have been great Empires before now, but 
the government of them has generally been in the 
hands of a few experts. Borne was forced to commit 
her Empire to the care of a single irresponsible 
statesman, and could not even reserve for herself her 
old civic liberties. In the United States we do indeed 


see a boundless dominion successfully guided under a 
democratic system. But the territory in this case, 
extensive though it be, is all compact and continuous, 
and the population, however large it may come to be, 
will still be in the main homogeneous. If the United 
States should come into the possession of countries 
separated from her by the sea, and of different nation- 
ality, her position in the world would be at once 
essentially altered. What is unprecedented in the 
relation of England to India is the attempt to rule, 
not merely by experts, but by a system founded on 
public opinion, a population not merely distant, but 
wholly alien, wholly unlike in ways of thinking, to 
the sovereign public. Public opinion is necessarily 
guided by a few large, plain, simple ideas. When the 
great interests of the country are plain, and the great 
maxims of its government unmistakable, it may be 
able to judge securely even in questions of vast 
magnitude. But public opinion is liable to be be- 
wildered when it is called on to enter into subtleties, 
draw nice distinctions, apply one set of principles 
here and another set there. Such bewilderment our 
Indian Empire produces. It is so different in kind 
both from England itself and from the Colonial 
Empire that it requires wholly different principles of 
policy. And therefore public opinion does not know 
what to make of it, but looks with blank indignation 
and despair upon a Government which seems utterly 
un-English, which is bureaucratic and in the hands 
of a ruling race, which rests mainly on military force, 
which raises its revenue, not in the European fashion, 


but by monopolies of salt and opium, and by taking 
the place of a universal landlord, and in a hundred 
other ways departs from the traditions of England. 

And it may be asked, For what end ? As I have 
remarked, the connection itself is not directly profitable 
to England. We must look therefore to advantages 
which may come to us from it indirectly. We find 
then that the trade between the two countries has 
gradually grown to be very great indeed. The loss 
of the Indian trade which might follow if the country 
fell again into anarchy or under a Government which 
closed its harbours to our merchants, would amount 
to 60,000,000 annually. But we are to set over 
against this advantage the great burden which is 
imposed by India upon our foreign policy. In the 
present state of the world a dependency held by 
military force may easily be like a millstone round 
the neck of a nation; for it may lock up an army 
which the nation may grievously need for other 
purposes or even for defence. We all conceive with 
what satisfaction Bismarck at the present moment 
sees France undertaking schemes of conquest in Africa 
and Asia. Now if England, which is not a military 
state, had in reality to hold down by English military 
force a population of two hundred millions, it is 
needless to say that such a burden would overwhelm 
us. This is not so, owing to a fundamental peculiarity 
of the Indian Empire, upon which I shall enlarge 
later, the peculiarity, namely, that in the main England 
conquered India and now keeps it by means of Indian 
troops paid with Indian money. We keep there only 


an English army of 65,000 men. But this is by no 
means the whole of the burden which India lays upon 
us. India, at the same time that she locks up an 
army, more than doubles the difficulty of our foreign 
policy. The supreme happiness for a country of 
course is to be self-contained, to have no need to 
inquire what other nations are doing. Very wisely 
did Washington advise his countrymen to retain this 
happiness as long as they could. England cannot 
well enjoy it, but if she did not possess India she 
might enjoy it comparatively. Her colonies as yet 
have for the most part only peaceful or insignificant 
or barbarous neighbours, and our old close interest 
in European struggles has passed away. But we 
continue to be anxiously interested in the East. 
Every movement in Turkey, every new symptom in 
Egypt, any stirring in Persia or Transoxiana or 
Burmah or Afghanistan, we are obliged to watch 
with vigilance. The reason is that we have possession 
of India. Owing to this we have a leading position 
in the system of Asiatic Powers, and a leading 
interest in the affairs of all those countries which lie 
upon the route to India. This and this only involves 
us in that permanent rivalry with Russia, which is to 
England in the nineteenth century what the competi- 
tion with France for the New World was to her in 
the eighteenth. 

My object in this lecture is to lay before you the 
Indian question in its broad outlines. I have put 
together at the outset some considerations which 
might incline us to take an anxious or desponding 


view of it. If it is doubtful whether we reap any 
balance of advantage from our Indian Empire, and if 
it is not doubtful that it involves us in enormous 
responsibilities and confuses our minds with problems 
of hopeless difficulty, may we not feel tempted to 
exclaim that it was an evil hour for England when 
the daring genius of Clive turned a trading company 
into a political Power, and inaugurated a hundred 
years of continuous conquest ? Must we not at least 
hold, as many among the distinguished statesmen 
who have devoted their lives to Indian affairs have 
held, that the Empire is ephemeral, and that the 
time is not far off when we must withdraw from 
the country ? 

On the other hand the wisest men may easily be 
mistaken when they speculate on such a subject. 
The end of our Indian Empire is perhaps almost as 
much beyond calculation as the beginning of it. 
There is no analogy in history either for one or the 
other. If the government of India from a remote 
island seems a thing which can never be permanent, 
we know that it once seemed a thing which could 
never take place, until it did take place. At any 
rate, if the Empire is to fall, we ought to be able to 
point already to proofs of its decline. Proofs certainly 
we can show of the immense difficulties it has to con- 
tend with, but scarcely symptoms of anything which 
can be called decline. And again if we should admit, 
or not deny, that England has not been repaid in any 
way for the trouble that this dependency has cost 
her, the admission by itself would have no practical 


importance. Between such an admission and any 
practical project, such as that of abandoning the 
Empire, there is a gulf fixed. 

It is possible to hold that England would be better 
off now had she founded no such Empire at all, had 
she remained standing, as a mere merchant, on the 
threshold of India, as she stands now on that of 
China. But the abandonment of India is an idea 
which even those who believe that we shall one day 
be driven to it are not accustomed to contemplate as 
a practical scheme. There are some deeds which, 
though they had been better not done, cannot be 
undone. A time may conceivably come when it may 
be practicable to leave India to herself, but for the 
present it is necessary to govern her as if we were to 
govern her for ever. Why so ? Not mainly on our 
own account. Some tell us that our honour requires 
us to maintain the acquisition which our fathers 
made with their blood, and which is the great 
military trophy of the nation. To my mind there is 
something monstrous in all such notions of honour ; 
they belong to that primitive and utterly obsolete 
class of notions, of which I have spoken before, 
which rest upon a confusion between the ideas of 
government and property. Nothing is to be con- 
sidered for a moment but the well-being of India 
and England, and of the two countries India, as being 
by much the more nearly interested, by much the 
larger, and by much the poorer, is to be considered 
before England. But on these very principles, and 
especially on account of the interest of India, it is 


impossible for the present to think of abandoning 
the task we have undertaken there. We might do 
so if our own interest alone were considered. Not 
that it would be easy, now that such a vast trade has 
grown up and such vast sums of English money, 
particularly in these latest years, have been invested 
in the country. But it would be possible. On the 
other hand if we consider the interest of India, it 
appears wholly impossible. Much may be plausibly 
alleged against the system under which we govern 
India. It may be doubted whether it is altogether 
suited to the people, whether it is not needlessly 
expensive, and so forth. We may feel a reasonable 
anxiety as to what will come in the end of this 
unparalleled experiment. But I think it would be a 
very extreme view to deny that our Government is 
better than any other which has existed in India 
since the Mussulman conquest. If it should ulti- 
mately fail more than any one imagines, we could 
never leave the country in a state half so deplorable 
as that in which we found it. A very moderately 
good Government is incomparably better than none. 
The sudden withdrawal even of an oppressive 
Government is a clangorous experiment. Some 
countries, no doubt, there are, which might pass 
through such a trial without falling into anarchy. 
Thinly-peopled countries, or countries whose inhabit- 
ants had been long accustomed to much freedom of 
action, might be trusted to devise for themselves 
very speedily as much government as might be 
necessary. But what a mockery to lay down such 


propositions with India in view ! When we began 
to take possession of the country, it was already in 
a state of wild anarchy such as Europe has perhaps 
never known. What government it had was pretty 
invariably despotic, and was generally in the hands 
of military adventurers, depending on a soldiery 
composed of bandits whose whole vocation was 
plunder. The Mahratta Power covered the greater 
part of India and threatened at once Delhi and 
Calcutta, while it had its headquarters at Poonah, 
and yet this power was but an organisation of 
pillage. Meanwhile in the North, Nadir Shah 
rivalled Attila or Tamerlane in his devastating 
expeditions. It may be said that this was only a 
passing anarchy produced by the dissolution of the 
Mogul Empire. Even so, it would show that India 
is not a country which can endure the withdrawal 
of Government. But have we not a somewhat 
exaggerated idea of the Mogul Empire ? Its great- 
ness was extremely short-lived, and in the Deccan it 
seems never really to have established itself. The 
anarchy which Clive and Hastings found in India 
was not so exceptional a state of things as it might 
seem. Probably it was much more intense at that 
moment than ever before, but a condition of anarchy 
seems almost to have been chronic in India since 
Mahmoud, and to have been but suspended for a 
while in the Northern half by Akber and Shah 

India then is of all countries that which is least 
capable of evolving out of itself a stable Government 


And it is to be feared that our rule may have 
diminished what little power of this sort it may have 
originally possessed. For our supremacy has neces- 
sarily depressed those classes which had anything of 
the talent or habit of government. The old royal 
races, the noble classes, and in particular the Mussul- 
mans who formed the bulk of the official class under 
the Great Moguls, have suffered most and benefited 
least from our rule. This decay is the staple topic 
of lamentation among those who take a dark view of 
our Empire ; but is it not an additional reason why 
the Empire should continue? Then think of the 
immense magnitude of the country ; think too that 
we have undermined all fixed moral and religious 
ideas in the intellectual classes by introducing the 
science of the West into the midst of Brahminical 
traditions. When you have made all these reflec- 
tions, you will see that to withdraw our Government 
from a country which is dependent on it, and which 
we have made incapable of depending upon anything 
else, would be the most inexcusable of all conceivable 
crimes, and might possibly cause the most stupendous 
of all conceivable calamities. 

Such then in its broad outline is the Indian 
Question of the present day. In what way did such 
a question grow up 1 How did we come into posses- 
sion of a dependency so enormous ? 



THE question how we conquered India does not at 
all resemble the questions which I raised in the last 
course. Our colonists in the new world occupied, to 
be sure, a vast territory, but it was comparatively 
an empty territory. The difficulties they encountered 
arose not so much from the natives, as from the 
rivalry of other European nations. By what degrees 
and from what causes we gained the advantage over 
these rivals, I partly discussed. It was a question to 
which the answer was not at once obvious, but at the 
same time not extremely difficult to find. On the 
other hand it is at first sight extremely perplexing 
to understand how we could conquer India. Here 
the population was dense, and its civilisation, though 
descending along a different stream of tradition, was 
as real and ancient as our own. We have learnt 
from many instances in European history to think it 
almost impossible really to conquer an intelligent 
people wholly alien in language and religion from its 


invaders. The whole power of Spain could not in 
eighty years conquer the Dutch provinces with their 
petty population. The Swiss could not be conquered 
in old time, nor the Greeks the other day. Nay, at 
the very time when we made the first steps in the 
conquest of India, we showed ourselves wholly un- 
able to reduce to obedience three millions of our own 
race in America, who had thrown off their allegiance 
to the English Crown. What a singular contrast is 
here ! Never did the English show so much languid 
incompetence as in the American War, so that it 
might have seemed evident that their age of greatness 
was over, and that the decline of England had begun. 
But precisely at this time they were appearing as 
irresistible conquerors in India, and showing a superior- 
ity which led them to fancy themselves a nation of 
heroes. How is the contradiction to be explained 1 

History is studied with so little seriousness, with 
so little desire or expectation of arriving at any solid 
result, that the contradiction passes almost unre- 
marked, or at most gives occasion to a triumphant 
reflection that after all there was life in us yet. 
And indeed it may seem that, however difficult of 
explanation the fact may be, there can be no doubt 
of it. Over and over again in India, at Plassey, at 
Assaye, and on a hundred other battlefields, our 
troops have been victorious against great odds, so 
that here at least it seems that we may indulge our 
national self-complacency without restraint, and feel 
that at any rate in comparison with the Hindu races 
we really are terrible fellows ! 


But does this hypothesis really remove the dim 
culty ? Suppose that one Englishman is really equal 
as a soldier to ten or twenty Hindus, can we even 
then conceive the whole of India conquered by the 
English 1 There were not more than twelve millions 
of Englishmen at the time when the conquest began, 
and it was made in a period when England had other 
wars on her hands. Olive's career falls partly in the 
Seven Years' War of Europe, and the great annexa- 
tions of Lord Wellesley were made in the midst of 
our war with Napoleon. We are not a military 
state. We did not in those times profess to be able 
to put on foot at any moment a great expeditionary 
army. Accordingly in our European wars we usually 
confined ourselves to acting with our fleet, while for 
hostilities on land it was our practice to subsidise 
any ally we might have among the military states, 
at one time Austria, at another Prussia. How then 
in spite of all this weakness by land could we manage 
to conquer during this time the greater part of India, 
an enormous region of nearly a million square miles 
and inhabited by two hundred millions of people 1 
What a drain such a work must have made upon 
our military force, what a drain upon our treasury ! 
And yet somehow the drain seems never to have 
been perceived. Our European wars involved us in 
a debt that we have never been able to pay. But 
our Indian wars have not swelled the National Debt. 
The exertions we had to make there seem to have 
left no trace behind them. 

It seems then that there must be something wroi 


in the conception which is current, that a number of 
soldiers went over from England to India, and there 
by sheer superiority in valour and intelligence con- 
quered the whole country. In the last great 
Mahratta war of 1818 we had, it appears, more than 
a hundred thousand men in the field. But what ! 
that was the time of mortal exhaustion that succeeded 
the great Napoleonic War. Is it possible that only 
three years after the battle of Waterloo we were at 
war again on a vast scale and had a much greater 
army in India than Lord Wellington had in Spain 1 
Again at the present moment the army kept in foot 
in India amounts to two hundred thousand men. 
What ! two hundred thousand English soldiers ! 
And yet we are not a military State ! 

You see of course what the fact is that I point at. 
This Indian army, we all know, does not consist of 
English soldiers, but mainly of native troops. Out 
of 200,000 only 65,000, or less than a third, are 
English. And even this proportion has only been 
established since the mutiny, after which catastrophe 
the English troops were increased and the native 
troops diminished in number. Thus I find that at 
the time of the mutiny there were 45,000 European 
troops to 235,000 native troops in India that is, less 
than a fifth. In 1808 again I find only 25,000 
Englishmen to 130,000 natives that is, somewhat less 
than a fifth. The same proportion obtained in 1773 
at the time of the Regulating Act, when British 
India first took shape. At that date the Company's 
army consisted of 9000 Europeans and 45,000 natives. 




Before that I find the proportion of Europeans even 
lower about a seventh; and if we go back to the 
very beginning we find that from the first the Indian 
army was rather a native than a European force. 
Thus Colonel Chesney opens his historical view of 
it in these words: "The first establishment of the 
Company's Indian Army may be considered to date 
from the year 1748, when a small body of sepoys 
was raised at Madras after the example set by the 
French, for the defence of that settlement. ... At 
the same time a small European force was raised, 
formed of such sailors as could be spared from the 
ships on the coast and of men smuggled on board the 
Company's vessels in England by the crimps." 

In the early battles of the Company by which its 
power was decisively established, at the siege of 
Arcot, at Plassey, at Buxar, there seem almost always 
to have been more sepoys than Europeans on the side 
of the Company. And let us observe further that we 
do not hear of the sepoys as fighting ill, or of the 
English as bearing the whole brunt of the conflict. 
No one who has remarked the childish eagerness with 
which historians indulge their national vanity, will 
be surprised to find that our English writers in 
describing these battles seem unable to discern the 
sepoys. Eead Macaulay's Essay on Clive ; every- 
where it is " the imperial people," " the mighty 
children of the sea," " none could resist Clive and his 
Englishmen." But if once it is admitted that the 
sepoys always outnumbered the English, and that 
they kept pace with the English in efficiency as 


soldiers, the whole theory which attributes our 
successes to an immeasurable natural superiority in 
valour falls to the ground. In those battles in which 
our troops were to the enemy as one to ten, it will 
appear that if we may say that one Englishman 
showed himself equal to ten natives, we may also say 
that one sepoy did the same. It follows that, though 
no doubt there was a difference, it was not so much a 
difference of race as a difference of discipline, of 
military science, and also no doubt in many cases a 
difference of leadership. 

Observe that Mill's summary explanation of the 
conquest of India says nothing of any natural supe- 
riority on the part of the English. "The two 
important discoveries for conquering India were : 
1st, the weakness of the native armies against 
European discipline ; 2ndly, the facility of imparting 
that discipline to natives in the European service." 
He adds: "Both discoveries were made by the 

And even if we should admit that the English 
fought better than the sepoys, and took more than 
their share in those achievements which both per- 
formed in common, it remains entirely incorrect to 
speak of the English nation as having conquered the 
nations of India. The nations of India have been 
conquered by an army of which on the average about 
a fifth part was English. But we not only exaggerate 
our own share in the achievement ; we at the same 
time entirely misconceive and misdescribe the achieve- 
ment itself. For from what race were the other four 


fifths of the army drawn ? From the natives of India 
themselves ! India can hardly be said to have been 
conquered at all by foreigners; she has rather 
conquered herself. If we were justified, which we 
are not, in personifying India as we personify France 
or England, we could not describe her as over- 
whelmed by a foreign enemy ; we should rather have 
to say that she elected to put an end to anarchy by 
submitting to a single Government, even though 
that Government was in the hands of foreigners. 

But that description would be as false and mis- 
leading as the other, or as any expression which 
presupposes India to have been a conscious political 
whole. The truth is that there was no India in the 
political, and scarcely in any other, sense. The word 
was a geographical expression, and therefore India 
was easily conquered, just as Italy and Germany fell 
an easy prey to Napoleon, because there was no 
Italy and no Germany, and not even any strong 
Italian or German national feeling. Because there 
was no Germany, Napoleon was able to set one 
German state against another, so that in fighting 
with Austria or Prussia he had Bavaria and Wurttem- 
berg for allies. As Napoleon saw that this means of 
conquest lay ready to his hand in Central Europe, so 
the Frenchman Dupleix early perceived that this road 
to empire in India lay open to any European state 
that might have factories there. He saw a condition 
of chronic war between one Indian state and another, 
and he perceived that by interfering in their quarrels 
the foreigner might arrive to hold the balance be 


tween them. He acted upon this view, and accord- 
ingly the whole history of European Empire in India 
begins with the interference of the French in the 
war of succession in Hyderabad that broke out on the 
death of the great Nizam ul Mulk (1748). 

The fundamental fact then is that India had no 
jealousy of the foreigner, because India had no sense 
whatever of national unity, because there was no 
India, and therefore, properly speaking, no foreigner. 
So far, as I have pointed out, parallel examples may 
be found in Europe. But we must imagine a much 
greater degree of political deadness in India than in 
Germany eighty years ago, if we would understand 
the fact now under consideration, the fact namely 
that the English conquered India by means of a 
sepoy army. In Germany there was scarcely any 
German feeling, but there was a certain amount, 
though not a very great amount, of Prussian feeling, 
Austrian feeling, Bavarian feeling, Suabian feeling. 
Napoleon is able to set Bavaria against Austria or 
both against Prussia, but he does not attempt to set 
Bavaria or Austria or Prussia against itself. To 
speak more distinctly, he procures by treaties that 
the Elector of Bavaria shall furnish a contingent to 
the army which he leads against Austria; but he 
does not, simply by offering pay, raise an army of 
Germans and then use them in the conquest of 
Germany. This would be the exact parallel to what 
has been witnessed in India. A parallel to the fact 
that India has been conquered by an army of which 
four-fifths were natives and only one -fifth English, 


would be found in Europe, if England had invaded 
France, and then by offering good pay had raised an 
army of Frenchmen large enough to conquer the 
country. The very idea seems monstrous. What! 
you exclaim, an army of Frenchmen quietly under- 
take to make war upon France ! And yet, if you 
reflect, you will see that such a thing is abstractedly 
quite possible, and that it might have been witnessed 
if the past history of France had been different. We 
can imagine that a national feeling had never sprung 
up in France ; this we can easily imagine, because we 
know that the twelfth century is full of wars between 
a king who reigned at Paris and another who reigned 
at Rouen. But let us imagine further that the 
different Governments established in different parts 
of France were mostly foreign Governments, that in 
fact the country had been conquered before and was 
still living under the yoke of foreign rulers. We can 
well understand that if in a country thus broken to the 
foreign yoke a disturbed state of affairs supervened, 
making mercenary war a lucrative profession, such a 
country might come to be full of professional soldiers 
equally ready to take service with any Government 
and against any Government, native or foreign. 

Now the condition of India was such as this. The 
English did not introduce a foreign domination 
into it, for the foreign domination was there already. 
In fact we bring to the subject a fixed miscon- 
ception. The homogeneous European community, 
a definite territory possessed by a definite race in 
one word, the Nation -State, though we assume 


it as if it were a matter of course, is in fact much 
more exceptional than we suppose, and yet it is 
upon the assumption of such a homogeneous com- 
munity that all our ideas of patriotism and public 
virtue depend. The idea of nationality seems in 
India to be thoroughly confused. The distinction of 
national and foreign seems to be lost. Not only has 
a tide of Mussulman invasion covered the country ever 
since the eleventh century, but even if we go back to 
the earliest times we still find a mixture of races, 
a domination of race by race. That Aryan, Sanscrit- 
speaking race which, as the creators of Brahminism, 
have given to India whatever unity it can be said to 
have, appear themselves as invaders, and as invaders 
who have not succeeded in swallowing up and absorb- 
ing the older nationalities. The older, not Indo- 
Germanic race, has in Europe almost disappeared, 
and at any rate has left no trace in our European 
languages, but in India the older stratum is every- 
where visible. The spoken languages there are not 
mere corruptions of Sanscrit, but mixtures of Sanscrit 
with older languages wholly different, and in the 
south not Sanscrit at all. Brahminism too, which at 
first sight seems universal, turns out on examination 
to be a mere vague eclecticism, which has given a 
show of unity to superstitions wholly unlike and 
unrelated to each other. It follows that in India the 
fundamental postulate cannot be granted, upon which 
the whole political ethics of the West depend. The 
homogeneous community does not exist there, out of 
which the State properly so called arises. Indeed to 


satisfy ourselves of this it is not necessary to travel 
so far back into the past. It is enough to notice that 
since the time of Mahmoud of Ghazni a steady stream 
of Mussulman invasion has poured into India. The 
majority of the Governments of India were Mussul- 
man long before the arrival of the Mogul in the 
sixteenth century. From this time therefore in most 
of the Indian States the tie of nationality was broken. 
Government ceased to rest upon right; the State 
lost its right to appeal to patriotism. 

In such a state of affairs what is called the conquest 
of India by the English can be explained without 
supposing the natives of India to be below other 
races, just as it does not force us to regard the English 
as superior to other races. We regard it as the duty 
of a man to fight for his country against the foreigner. 
But what is a man's country ? When we analyse the 
notion, we find it presupposes the man to have been 
bred up in a community which may be regarded as a 
great family, so that it is natural for him to think of 
the land itself as a mother. But if the community 
has not been at all of the nature of a family, but has 
been composed of two or three races hating each 
other, if not the country, but at most the village has 
been regarded as a home, then it is not the fault of 
the natives of it that they have no patriotism but 
village-patriotism. It is one thing to receive a foreign 
yoke for the first time, and quite a different thing to 
exchange one foreign yoke for another. 

But, as I have pointed out, the surprising feature 
in the English conquest of India is not so much that 


it should have been made, as that it should have cost 
England no effort and no trouble. The English people 
have not paid taxes, the English Government has not 
opened loans, no conscription was ever introduced, 
nay, no drain of men was ever perceived, and no 
difficulty was ever felt in carrying on other wars at 
the same time, because we were engaged in conquer- 
ing a population equal to that of Europe. This seems 
at first sight incredible, but I have already given the 
explanation of it. As to the finance of all these wars, 
it falls under the general principle which applies to 
all wars of conquest. Conquest pays its own expenses. 
As Napoleon had never any financial difficulties, 
because he lived at the expense of those whom he 
vanquished in war, so the conquest of India was 
made, as a matter of course, at the expense of India. 
The only difficulty then is to understand how the 
army could be created. And this difficulty too 
disappears, when we observe that four-fifths of this 
army was always composed of native troops. 

If we fix our attention upon this all-important fact 
we shall be led, if I mistake not, to perceive that the 
expression " conquest," as applied to the acquisition 
of sovereignty by the East India Company in India, 
is not merely loose but thoroughly misleading, and 
tempts us to class the event among events which it in 
no way resembles. I have indeed remarked more 
than once before that this expression, whenever it is 
used, requires far more definition than it commonly 
receives, and that it may bear several different 
meanings. But surely the word is only applicable 


at all when it refers to some action done to one state 
by another. There is war between two states ; the 
army of the one state invades the other and overturns 
the Government of it, or at least forces the Govern- 
ment to such humiliating terms that it is practically 
deprived of its independence ; this is conquest in the 
proper sense. Now when we say that England has 
conquered India, we ought to mean that something 
of this sort has happened between England and India. 
When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian 
Empire, there was war between the Macedonian state 
and the Persian, in which the latter was subjugated. 
When Caesar conquered Gaul, he acted in the name 
of the Koman Eepublic, holding an office conferred 
on him by the senate, and commanding the army of 
the Koman state. But nothing of this sort happened 
in India. The King of England did not declare war 
upon the Great Mogul or upon any Nawab or Rajah 
in India. The English state would perhaps have had 
no concern from first to last in the conquest of India 
but for this circumstance, that it engaged five times 
in war with France after the French settlements in 
India had become considerable, and that these wars, 
being partly waged in India, were in a certain degree 
mixed up with the wars between the East India 
Company and the native Powers of India. If we 
wish clearly to understand the nature of the phe- 
nomenon, we ought to put this circumstance, which 
was accidental, on one side. We shall then see that 
nothing like what is strictly called a conquest took 
place, but that certain traders inhabiting certain sea- 


port towns in India, were induced, almost forced, in 
the anarchy caused by the fall of the Mogul Empire, 
to give themselves a military character and employ 
troops, that by means of these troops they acquired 
territory and at last almost all the territory of India, 
and that these traders happened to be Englishmen, 
and to employ a certain, though not a large, propor- 
tion of English troops in their army. 

Now this is not a foreign conquest, but rather an 
internal revolution. In any country when government 
breaks down and anarchy sets in, the general law is 
that a struggle follows between such organised powers 
as remain in the country, and that the most powerful 
of these sets up a Government. In France for 
instance after the fall of the House of Bourbon in 
1792 a new Government was set up chiefly through 
the influence of the Municipality of Paris; this 
Government having fallen into discredit a few years 
later was superseded by a military Government 
wielded by Bonaparte. Now India about 1750 was 
in a condition of anarchy caused by a decay in the 
Mogul Empire, which had begun at the death of 
Aurungzebe in 1707. The imperial authority having 
everywhere lost its force over so vast a territory, the 
general law began to operate. Everywhere the minor 
organised powers began to make themselves supreme. 
These powers, after the fashion of India, were most 
commonly mercenary bands of soldiers, commanded 
either by some provincial governor of the falling 
Empire, or by some adventurer who seized an 
opportunity of rising to the command of them, or 


lastly by some local power which had existed before 
the establishment of the Mogul supremacy and had 
never completely yielded to it To give an example 
of each kind of power, the state of Hyderabad was 
founded by the satrap of the Great Mogul called the 
Nizam, the state of Mysore was founded by the 
Mussulman adventurer Hyder Ali, who rose from the 
ranks by mere military ability, the great Mahratta 
confederacy of chieftains headed by the Peishwa, a 
Brahminical not a Mussulman Power, represented 
the older India of the time before the Mogul. But 
all these powers alike subsisted by means of mercenary 
armies ; they lived in a state of chronic war and 
mutual plunder such as, I suppose, has hardly been 
witnessed in Europe except perhaps in the dissolution 
of the Carolingian Empire. 

Such a state of affairs was peculiarly favourable to 
the rise of new powers. In other circumstances con- 
quest presupposes what I may call a capital fund of 
power. No one can undertake it that does not 
already possess a recognised authority and an army. 
In those circumstances it was otherwise. Hyder Ali 
had nothing but his head and his right arm, and he 
became Sultan of Mysore. For mercenary armies were 
everywhere; they were at the service of every one who 
could pay them or win an influence over them ; and 
any one who commanded a mercenary army was on a 
level with the greatest potentates of India, since in 
the dissolution of authority the only force left was 
military force. 

Now among the different local powers in India, 


which in such peculiar circumstances might strike for 
empire with some chance of success, were certain 
merchants who had factories in the seaport towns. 
They were foreigners indeed, but, as I have pointed 
out, this could make no difference in India, where most 
Governments were foreign, where the Great Mogul 
himself was a foreigner. Much rhetoric has been 
spent on the miraculousness of the fortune of the 
East India Company. It is true that there had been 
no previous example of such a fortune, and that for 
this reason it would not have occurred to any one to 
predict such a fortune. But it was not miraculous in 
the sense of being hard to account for or having 
no visible cause. For the East India Company had 
really some capital to start with. It had a command 
of money, it had two or three fortresses, the command 
of the sea, and it had the advantage of being a cor- 
poration that is, it was not liable to be killed in 
battle or to die of a fever. We are not much 
astonished when an individual rises from some 
private station into empire over a great territory, 
because this has happened often. And yet intrinsic- 
ally it is much more astonishing. That the younger 
son of a poor nobleman in Corsica should control the 
greater part of Europe with despotic power, is in- 
trinsically far more wonderful than that the East 
India Company should conquer India, for Bonaparte 
began without interest, without friends, without a 
penny in his pocket, and yet he not only gained his 
empire but lost it again in less than twenty years. In 
like manner the rise of Hyder Ali, or of Scindiah, or 


of Holkar, was more wonderful and demanded more 
of the special favour of fortune than the rise of the 
East India Company. You see that I wish you to 
place this event in a different class of events from 
that in which it is commonly placed. It is not the 
conquest of one state by another. It is not an event 
in which two states are concerned, at least directly ; 
it is not an event belonging to the foreign department. 
It is an internal revolution in Indian society, and is 
to be compared to one of those sudden usurpations or 
coups d'ttat, by which a period of disturbance within 
a community is closed. Let us imagine for a 
moment that the merchants who rose to power had 
not been foreign at all, the nature of the event is not 
thereby altered. We may suppose that a number of 
Parsee merchants in Bombay, tired of the anarchy 
which disturbed their trade, had subscribed together 
to establish fortresses and raise troops, and then 
that they had had the good fortune to employ able 
generals. In that case they too might have had their 
Plassey and their Buxar; they too might have ex- 
torted from the Great Mogul the Dewannee, or 
financial administration of a province, and so laid the 
foundations of an Empire, which might in time have 
extended over all India. In that case we should have 
had substantially the same event, but it would have 
appeared clearly in its true light We should have 
recognised it as having the nature of an internal 
revolution, as being the effect of the natural struggle 
which every community makes to put down the 
anarchy which is tearing it to pieces. 


In such an event as that there would have been 
nothing very miraculous, and yet the rise of the East 
India Company was much less miraculous. For the 
Company was closely connected with Europe, and 
could call in the military science and discipline of 
Europe, which was evidently superior to that of India. 
That same Frenchman Dupleix, who laid down so 
clearly the theory of the conquest of India, perceived 
that the native armies could not for a moment stand 
before European troops, but he perceived also that 
the native of India was quite capable of receiving 
European discipline and learning to fight with 
European efficiency. This then was the talisman 
which the Company possessed, and which enabled 
it not merely to hold its own among the Powers of 
India but to surpass them, not some incommunic- 
able physical or moral superiority, as we love to 
imagine but a superior discipline and military 
system, which could be communicated to the natives 
of India. 

Beyond this they had another great advantage. 
They did not, to be sure, represent the English State, 
but yet their connection with England was of infinite 
service to them. They had indeed to procure in 
the main for themselves the money and the men by 
which India was conquered. But as a chartered 
Company which had the monopoly of English trade 
in India and China, they were an object of interest 
to the English Government and to Parliament. It 
several times happened that the war by which they 
acquired Indian territory wore the appearance before 


the English public of a war between England and 
France, and was therefore heartily supported by the 
nation. This is a fact of fundamental importance, 
which has not often been sufficiently considered. 
The English conquest of India began not in some 
quarrel between the Company and a native Power. 
It began in an alarming attempt made by the French 
to get control over the Deccan, and so among other 
things to destroy the English settlements at Madras 
and Bombay, by interfering in the question of the 
Hyderabad succession. Our first military step in the 
East was to defend ourselves against the French 
attack. And from that time for nearly seventy years 
that is, to the end of the war with Napoleon, our 
wars in India never ceased to wear more or less the 
appearance of defensive wars against France. The 
effect of this was that, though they were not waged 
in the name or at the expense of the State, yet they 
seemed to a certain extent national wars, wars in 
which England was deeply concerned. To a consider- 
able extent therefore the Company's troops were 
aided by Royal troops, and from 1785, when Lord 
Cornwallis went out as Governor-General, an English 
statesman of mark was sent out to preside over the 
political and military affairs. The attacks that were 
made upon the Company in Parliament, the vote of 
censure moved against Lord Clive, the impeachment 
brought against Hastings, the successive ministerial 
schemes for regulating the Company's affairs, one of 
which in 1783 convulsed the whole political world of 
England, all these interferences contributed to make 


our Indian wars seem national wars, and to identify 
the Company with the English nation. In this way 
the Company was practically backed by the credit and 
renown of a first-class European state, though at the 
same time that state contributed little to the wars by 
which the Company acquired territory. 

The words " wonderful," " strange," are often ap- 
plied to great historical events, and there is no event 
to which they have been applied more freely than 
to our conquest of India. But an event may be 
wonderful or strange without being necessarily at all 
difficult to account for. The conquest of India is very 
wonderful in the sense that nothing similar to it had 
ever happened before, and that therefore nothing 
similar could be expected by those who for the first 
century and a half administered the affairs of the 
Company in India. No doubt Job Charnock, or 
Josiah Child, or Governor Pitt of Madras (grand- 
father of the great Lord Chatham), or perhaps Major 
Lawrence, never dreamed that we should one day 
suppress the authority alike of the Peishwa of the 
Mahrattas and of the Great Mogul himself. But the 
event was not wonderful in the sense that it is diffi- 
cult to discover adequate causes by which it could 
have been produced. If we begin by remarking that 
authority in India had fallen on the ground through 
the decay of the Mogul Empire, that it lay there 
waiting to be picked up by somebody, and that all 
over India in that period adventurers of one kind or 
another were founding Empires, it is really not sur- 
prising that a mercantile corporation which had money 




to pay a mercenary force, should be able to compete 
with other adventurers, nor yet that it should out- 
strip all its competitors by bringing into the field 
English military science and generalship, especially 
when it was backed over and over again by the whole 
power and credit of England and directed by English 

The sum of what I have urged is that the conquest 
of India is not in the ordinary sense a conquest at all, 
because it was not the act of a state and was not 
accomplished by the army and the money of a state. 
I have pointed this out in order to remove the per- 
plexity which must be caused by the statement that 
England conquered India that is, a population as 
large as that of Europe and many thousand miles off, 
and yet that England is not a military state, though 
this enormous conquest was achieved by England 
without any exhausting effort and without any ex- 
pense. The explanation of this contradiction is that 
England did not in the strict sense conquer India, 
but that certain Englishmen, who happened to reside 
in India at the time when the Mogul Empire fell, had 
a fortune like that of Hyder Ali or Runjeet Singh, 
and rose to supreme power there. 

But yet of course in its practical result the event 
has proved to be a conquest of India by England. 
For now that the process is complete and the East 
India Company has been swept away, we see that 
Queen Victoria is Empress of India, and that a 
Secretary, who is a member of the English Cabinet 
and sits in the English Parliament, is responsible for 


the administration of India. England as a state 
did not make the acquisition, yet it has fallen to 
England. This is merely an exemplification of the 
general principle, which, as I pointed out above, has 
governed all the settlements of Europeans outside 
Europe since the time of Columbus. However far 
they roamed, however strange and wonderful was 
their success, they were never able at the outset to 
shake off their European citizenship. Cortez and 
Pizarro trampled under their feet the Governments 
they found in America. With scarcely an effort they 
made themselves supreme wherever they came. But 
though they could set at nought in Mexico the 
authority of Montezuma, they could not resist or 
dream of resisting the authority of Charles V., who 
was on the other side of the Atlantic. The conse- 
quence was that whatever conquests they made by 
their own unassisted audacity and effort were con- 
fiscated at once and as a matter of course by Spain. 
So with the English in India. After 1765 the East 
India Company held nominally a high office in the 
Empire of the Great Mogul. But it was asserted at 
once by the English Parliament that whatever terri- 
torial acquisitions might be made by the Company 
were under the control of Parliament. The Great 
Mogul's name was scarcely mentioned in the discus- 
sion, and the question seems never to have been 
raised whether he would consent to the administra- 
tion of his provinces of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa 
being thus conducted under the control of a foreign 
Government. The Company made part of two states 



LKCT. Ill 

at once. It was a Company under a Charter from 
the King of England; it was a Dewan under the 
Great Mogul. But it swept away the Great Mogul, 
as Cortez swept away Montezuma; on the other 
hand it submitted all its boundless acquisitions 
meekly to the control of England, and at last, when 
a century was completed from the battle of Plassey, 
it suffered itself to be abolished and surrendered 
India to the English Government. 



I HAVE considered the nature of the relation in which 
India stands to England, and have tried to explain 
how this relation could spring up without a miracle. 
We may now advance a step and form some opinion 
on the question whether that relation can endure 
without a miracle, as it was created without one, or 
whether we ought to regard the government of India 
by the English as a kind of political tour de force, a 
matter of astonishment while it lasts, but certain not 
to last very long. For the great difficulty which the 
student has to contend with in studying Indian 
affairs is the dazzling effect of events so strange, so 
remote, and on a scale so large, by which he is led to 
think that ordinary causation is not to be expected 
in India, and that in that region all is miraculous. 
The rhetorical tone ordinarily adopted in history 
favours this illusion ; historians are fond of parading 
all the strange and marvellous features of the Indian 
Empire, as if it were less their business to account 




for what happens than to make it seem more un- 
accountable than before. 

Thus we come to think of our ascendency in India 
as an exception to all ordinary rules, a standing 
miracle in politics, only to be explained by the heroic 
qualities of the English race and their natural genius 
for government. So long as we take this view, it is 
of course impossible for us to form any opinion 
concerning the duration of it. What was a miracle 
at the beginning is likely to continue so to the end. 
If ordinary laws are suspended, who shall say how 
long the suspension is likely to last ? Now I have 
tried to look calmly at our Empire in its beginning. 
I have examined the conquest of India, and have 
found that it is indeed miraculous in the sense of 
being unlike our experience the revolutions of 
Asiatic society would naturally be unlike those of 
Europe but that it is not miraculous in the sense of 
being unaccountable, or even difficult to account for. 
I now inquire whether our government of India is 
miraculous in this sense. 

It must certainly appear so, if we assume that 
India is simply a conquered country and the English 
its conquerors. Who does not know the extreme 
difficulty of repressing the disaffection of a conquered 
population ? Over and over again it has been found 
impossible, even where the superiority both in the 
number and efficiency of troops has been decidedly 
on the side of the conquerors. When the Spaniards 
failed in the Low Countries, they were the best 
soldiers and Spain by far the greatest state in 


Christendom. For the instinct of nationality or of 
separate religion more than supplies the place of 
valour or of discipline, being diffused through the 
whole population and not confined to the fighting 
part of it. Let us compare the parallel case of Italy. 
Italy corresponds in the map of Europe to India in 
that of Asia. It is a similar peninsula at the south 
of the Continent, with a mighty mountain range 
above it, and below this a great river flowing from 
west to east. It is still more similar in the circum- 
stance that for many centuries it was a prey to 
foreign invaders. No long time ago Italy was sub- 
ject to the ascendency and partly to the actual rule 
of Austria. Its inhabitants were less warlike, its 
armies much less efficient, than those of Austria, and 
Austria was close at hand. And yet, though fighting 
at so much disadvantage, Italy has made herself 
free. In the field she was generally defeated, but 
the feeling of nationality was so strong within and 
attracted so much sympathy without, that she has 
had her way, and the foreigner has left her to her- 
self. Now in every point India is more advan- 
tageously situated with respect to England than Italy 
with respect to Austria. She has a population about 
eight times as great as that of England ; she is at the 
other side of the globe ; and then England does not 
profess to be a military state. Yet to all appearance 
she submits to the yoke ; we do not hear of rebellions. 
In conducting the government of India we meet with 
difficulties, but they are chiefly financial and econo- 
mical The particular difficulty which in Italy was 




too much for Austria we do not encounter ; we do 
not feel the difficulty of repressing the disaffection of 
a conquered nationality. Is not this miraculous 1 
Does it not seem as if all ordinary laws were sus- 
pended in this case, or as if we might assume that 
there are no bounds either to the submissiveness of 
the Hindu or to the genius for government of the 

What I urged above may partly prepare you for 
the answer which I make to this question. In the 
question it is assumed, first, that India constitutes a 
nationality ; secondly, that this nationality has been 
conquered by England. Now both these assumptions 
are wholly unfounded. 

First the notion that India is a nationality rests 
upon that vulgar error which political science 
principally aims at eradicating. We in Europe, 
accustomed to see the map of Europe divided into 
countries each of which is assigned to a peculiar 
nationality, of which a special language is the badge, 
fall into a profound misconception. We assume that 
wherever, inside or outside of Europe, there is a 
country which has a name, there must be a nationality 
answering to it. At the same time we take no pains 
to conceive clearly or define precisely what we call a 
nationality. We content ourselves with remarking 
that we in England should be most unwilling to be 
governed by the French, and that the French would 
be sorry to be governed by the Germans, and from 
these examples we draw the conclusion that the 
people of India must in like manner feel it a deep 


humiliation to be governed by the English. Such 
notions spring from mere idleness and inattention. 
It does not need proving, it is sufficient merely to 
state, that it is not every population which constitutes 
a nationality. The English and the French are not 
mere populations ; they are populations united in a 
very special way and by very special forces. Let 
us think of some of these uniting forces, and then ask 
whether they operate upon the populations of India. 
The first is community of race, or rather the belief 
in a community of race. This, when it appears on a 
large scale, is identical with community of language. 
The English are those who speak English, the French 
those who speak French. Now do the inhabitants of 
India speak one language ? The answer is, No more, 
but rather less, than the inhabitants of Europe speak 
one language ! So much has been said by philologers 
about Sanscrit and its affinities with other languages, 
that it is necessary to remark that it is an obvious 
community of language, of which the test is intelligi- 
bility, and not some hidden affinity, that acts as a 
uniting force. Thus the Italians regarded the Aus- 
trians as foreigners because they could not under- 
stand German, without troubling themselves to 
consider that German as well as Italian is an Indo- 
European language. There is affinity among several 
of the languages of India, as among those of Europe. 
The Hindi languages may be compared with the 
Romance languages of Europe, as being descendants of 
the ancient language, but the mutual affinity of the 
Bengali, the Marathi, the Guzerati does not help to 


make those who speak them one nation. The 
Hindustani has sprung out of the Mussulman 
conquest, by a mixture of the Persian of the invaders 
with the Hindi languages of the natives. But in the 
South we find a linguistic discrepancy in India 
greater than any which exists in Europe, for the 
great languages of the South, Tamil, Telugu, 
Canarese, are not Indo-European at all, and they are 
spoken by populations far larger than those Finns 
and Magyars of Europe whose language is not Indo- 

This fact is enough by itself to show that the 
name India ought not to be classed with such names 
as England or France, which correspond to nation- 
alities, but rather with such as Europe, marking a 
group of nationalities which have chanced to obtain a 
common name owing to some physical separation. 
Like Europe it is a mere geographic expression, but 
even so, it has been much less uniformly used than 
the name Europe. Europe at any rate has been 
used in much the same sense since the time of 
Herodotus, but our present use of the word India is 
not perhaps very old. To us indeed it seems natural 
that the whole country which is marked off from 
Asia by the great barrier of the Himalaya and the 
Suleiman range should have a single name. But it 
has not always seemed so. The Greeks had but a 
very vague idea of this country. To them for a long 
time the word India was for practical purposes what 
it was etymologically, the province of the Indus. 
When they say that Alexander invaded India, they 


refer to the Punjab. At a later time they obtained 
some information about the valley of the Ganges, 
but little or none about the Deccan. Meanwhile in 
India itself it did not seem so natural as it seems to 
us to give one name to the whole region. For there 
is a very marked difference between the northern and 
southern parts of it. The great Aryan community 
which spoke Sanscrit and invented Brahminism 
spread itself chiefly from the Punjab along the great 
valley of the Ganges, but not at first far southward. 
Accordingly the name Hindostan properly belongs to 
this Northern region. In the South or peninsula we 
find other races and non-Aryan languages, though 
Brahminism has extended itself there too. Even the 
Mogul Empire in its best time did not much penetrate 
into this region. 

It appears then that India is not a political name, 
but only a geographical expression like Europe or 
j Africa. It does not mark the territory of a nation 
i and a language, but the territory of many nations 
and many languages. Here is the fundamental 
difference between India and such countries as Italy, 
in which the principle of nationality has asserted 
itself. Both India and Italy were divided among a 
number of states, and so were weak in resistance to 
the foreigner. But Italy, though divided by organ- 
isation, was one by nationality. The same language 
pervaded it, and out of this language had sprung a 
great literature, which was the common possession of 
the whole peninsula. India, as I have pointed out, 
is no more united by language than Europe is. 



But nationality is compounded of several elements, 
of which a sense of kindred is only one. The sense 
of a common interest and the habit of forming a 
single political whole constitute another element. 
This too has been very weak, though perhaps it has 
not been altogether wanting in India. The country 
might seem almost too large for it, but the barrier 
which separates India from the rest of the world is so 
much more effective than any barrier between one 
part of India than another, that in spite of all 
ethnical and local divisions some vague conception of 
India as at least a possible whole has existed from 
a very ancient time. In the shadowy traditionary 
history of the times before Mahmoud of Ghazni it is 
vaguely related of this king and that king that he 
was lord of all India ; the dominion of some historical 
princes in the first Mohammedan period, and finally 
the Mogul Empire, were approximately universal. 
But we must not exaggerate the greatness of the 
Mogul Empire, or imagine that it answers in India 
to the Roman Empire in Europe. Observe how short 
its duration was. We cannot put the very com- 
mencement of it earlier than 1524, the date of the 
capture of Lahore by Baber that is, in Henry VIIL'a 
reign. When Vasco da Gama landed in India it had 
not begun to exist, and its marked and rapid decline 
begins in 1707 that is, in Queen Anne's reign. 
Between these dates there is less than two centuries. 
But next observe that the Mogul Empire cannot be 
properly said to have existed from the moment when 
Baber entered India, but only from the moment when 


the Indian dominion of the Moguls became extensive. 
Now at the accession of Akber, which was in 1559, 
or the year after that of Queen Elizabeth, this Empire 
consisted simply of the Punjab and the country 
round Delhi and Agra. It was not till 1576 that 
Akber conquered Bengal, and he conquered Sind and 
Guzerat between 1591 and 1594. His empire was 
now extensive, but if we consider 1594 instead of 
1524 as the date of the commencement of the Mogul 
Empire, we reduce its duration to little more than a 

Next observe that even at this time it by no 
means includes all India. To imagine this is to con- 
fuse India with Hindostan. Akber's dominion in 
1595 was limited by the Nerbudda, and he had not 
yet set foot in the Deccan. He was Emperor of 
Hindostan, but by no means of India. In his later 
years he invaded the Deccan, and from this time the 
Mogul pretensions began to extend to the Southern 
'J half of India. But it cannot be said that anything 
1 like a conquest of the Deccan was made before the 
| great expedition of Aurungzebe in 168& From this 
1 time we may, if we choose, speak of the Mogul 
Empire as including the Deccan, and therefore as 
uniting all India under one Government, though the 
subjection of the Deccan was chiefly nominal, for the 
Mahratta Power was already rising fast. But thus 
the duration of the Empire is reduced to a mere 
moment, for the Mogul Emperors purchased this ex- 
tension of their dominion by the ruin of the Empire, 
Within twenty-four years decay had become visible, 




and, as I take it, directly in consequence of this am- 
bitious expedition. The Empire had always wanted 
ja sufficient nucleus, and its powers were exhausted 
[by this unwise attempt to extend it. 

On the whole then it may be said that India has 
never really been united so as to form one state ex- 
cept under the English. And they cannot be said to 
have accomplished the work until the Governor- 
Generalship of Lord Dalhousie thirty years ago, 
when the Punjab, Oude, and Nagpore were incor- 
porated with the English dominions. 

Another leading element of nationality is a com- 
mon religion. This element is certainly not altogether 
wanting in India. The Brahminical system does 
extend over the whole of India. Not of course that 
it is the only religion of India. There are not less 
than fifty millions of Mussulmans that is, a far 
greater number than is to be found in the Turkish 
Empire. There is also a small number of Sikhs, who 
profess a religion which is a sort of fusion of 
Mohammedanism and Brahminism ; there are a few 
Christians, and in Ceylon and Nepaul there are 
Buddhists. But Brahminism remains the creed of 
the enormous majority, and it has so much real 
vitality that it has more than once resisted formidable 
attacks. One of the most powerful of all proselytis- 
ing creeds, Buddhism, sprang up in India itself; it 
spread far and wide; we nave evidence that it 
nourished with vigour in India two centuries before 
Christ, and that it was still flourishing in the seventh 
century after Christ. Yet it has been conquered by 


Brahminism, and flourishes now almost in every part 
of Asia more than in the country which produced it. 
After this victory Brahminism had to resist the 
assault of another powerful aggressive religion, before 
which Zoroastrianism had already fallen, and even 
Christianity had in the East had to retreat some 
steps, Mohammedanism. Here again it held its own ; 
Mussulman Governments overspread India, but they 
could not convert the people. 

Now religion seems to me to be the strongest and 
most important of all the elements which go to 
constitute nationality; and this element exists in 
India. When it is said that India is to be compared 
rather to Europe than to France or England, we may 
remember that Europe, considered as Christendom, 
has had and still has a certain unity, which would 
show itself plainly and quickly enough if Europe 
were threatened, as more than once it was threatened 
in the Middle Ages, by a barbarian and heathen 
tenemy. It may seem then that in Brahminism 
idia has a germ, out of which sooner or later an 
[ndian nationality might spring. And perhaps it is 
so ; but yet we are to observe that in that case the 
nationality ought to have developed itself long since. 
For the Mussulman invasions, which have succeeded 
each other through so many centuries, have supplied 
precisely the pressure which was most likely to 
favour the development of the germ. Why did 
Brahminism content itself with holding its own 
against Islam, and not rouse and unite India against 
the invader 1 It never did so. Brahminical Powers 


have risen in India. A chieftain named Sivaji arose 
in the middle of the seventeenth century, and 
possessing himself of one or two hill-forts in the 
highlands behind Bombay, founded the Mahratta 
Power. This was a truly Hindu organisation, and, 
as its power increased, it fell more and more under 
the control of the Brahmin caste. The decline of 
the Mogul Empire favoured its advance, so that in 
the middle of the eighteenth century the ramifications 
of the Mahratta confederacy covered almost the whole 
of India. It might appear that in this confederacy 
there lay the nucleus of an Indian nationality, that 
Brahminism was now about to do for the Hindus 
what has been done for so many other races by their 
religion. But nothing of the kind happened. Brah- 
minism did not pass into patriotism. Perhaps its 
facile comprehensiveness, making it in reality not a 
religion but only a loose compromise between several 
religions, has enfeebled it as a uniting principle. At 
any rate it appears that in the Mahratta movement 
there never was anything elevated or patriotic, but 
that it continued from first to last to be an organisa- 
tion of plunder. 

There is then no Indian nationality, though there 
,are some germs out of which we can conceive an 
Indian nationality developing itself. It is this fact, 
and not some enormous superiority on the part of 
the English race, that makes our Empire in India 
possible. If there could arise in India a nationality- 
movement similar to that which we witnessed iu 
Italy, the English Power could not even make the 


resistance that was made in Italy by Austria, but 
must succumb at once. For what means can England 
have, which is not even a military state, of resisting 
the rebellion of two hundred and fifty millions of 
subjects ? Do you say, as we conquered them before, 
we could conquer them again ? But I explained that 
we did not conquer them. I showed you that of the 
army which won our victories four-fifths consisted of 
native troops. That we were able to hire these 
native troops for service in India, was due to the fact 
that the feeling of nationality had no existence there. 
Now if the feeling of a common nationality began to 
exist there only feebly, if, without inspiring any 
active desire to drive out the foreigner, it only 
created a notion that it was shameful to assist him in 
maintaining his dominion, from that day almost our 
Empire would cease to exist; for of the army by 
which it is garrisoned two-thirds consist of native 
soldiers. Imagine what an easy task the Italian 
patriots would have had before them, if the Austrian 
Government which they desired to expel had de- 
pended not upon Austrian but upon Italian soldiers ! 
if Let us suppose not even that the native army 
iji mutinied but simply that a native army could not 
jj any longer be levied. In a moment the impossibility 
of holding India would become manifest to us ; for 
it is a condition of our Indian Empire that it should 
be held without any great effort. As it was acquired 
without much effort on the part of the English state, 
it must be retained in the same way. We are not 
prepared to bury millions upon millions or army 


upon army in defending our acquisition. The 
moment India began really to show herself what we 
so idly imagine her to be, a conquered nation, that 
moment we should recognise perforce the impossi- 
bility of retaining her. 

I And thus the mystic halo of marvel and miracle 
which has gathered round this Empire disappears 
before a fixed scrutiny. It disappears when we 
perceive that, though we are foreign rulers in India, 
we are not conquerors resting on superior force, when 
we recognise that it is a mere European prejudice 
to assume that since we do not rule by the will 
of the people of India, we must needs rule against 
their will. The love of independence presupposes 
political consciousness. Where this is wanting, a 
foreign Government will be regarded passively, and 
such a Government may continue for a long time and 
prosper without exerting any extraordinary skill. 
Such a passive feeling towards Government becomes 
inveterate in a country that has been frequently con- 
quered. Governments most oppressive have often 
continued for centuries, and that though they had no 
means of resisting rebellion if it should arise, simply 
because it did not enter into the habits of the people 
to rebel, because they were accustomed to obedience. 
Read the history of the Eussian Czars in the sixteenth 
century. Why did a great population submit to the 
furious caprices of Ivan the Terrible ? The answer 
is plain. They had been trampled under foot for two 
centuries by the Tartars, and during that period they 
had acquired the habit of passive submission. 


Now ought we not to expect the population of 
India to be in a similar condition of feeling? Of 
liberty, of popular institutions, there exists scarcely 
a trace in the whole extent of Indian history or 
tradition. The Italians had the Roman Republic 
behind them, and it was by reading Livy to the 
people that Rienzi roused them to rebellion. No 
Indian demagogue could find anything similar to read 
to the people. And for seven hundred years when 
the English arrived, they had been governed not 
only by despots but by foreign despots. It would be 
marvellous indeed if in such a country the feeling 
could have sprung up that Government exists for 
and depends on the people, if a habit of criticis- 
ing Government, of meditating its overthrow, or of 
organising opposition against it, could have sprung up. 
Nations have, as it were, very stiff joints. They do 
not easily learn a new kind of movement ; they do 
what their fathers did, even when they fancy them- 
selves most original It has been pointed out that 
even the French Revolution strangely resembled some 
earlier chapters in the history of France. Certainly 
the Italian nationality-movement resembles earlier 
Italian movements that go back beyond the age of 
Dante. Now by this rule we should expect to find 
the Indian population silently submitting to whatever 
Government had the possession of power, even though 
it were foreign, as our Government is, and even 
though it were savagely oppressive, which we think 
our Government is not. 

Our Government of India would be a miracle on 




two conditions. First, if the Hindus had been accus- 
tomed to be ruled only by their own countrymen, 
and were familiar with the idea of resisting authority. 
This is not the case of the Hindus, and accordingly 
they submit, as throughout history vast populations 
have been in the habit of submitting to Governments 
which they could easily overthrow, as the Chinese at 
the present day submit to a Tartar domination, as 
the Hindus themselves submitted to the Mogul 
domination before the English came. Indeed this 
example of the Moguls is well adapted to show that 
our ascendency over the Hindus is no proof of any 
supernatural statesmanship in us. For one cannot 
read the Mogul history without being struck with 
the very same fact which surprises us in the history 
of the English rule, viz. that the Moguls too con- 
quered almost without apparent means. Baber, the 
founder of the Empire, did not come with a mighty 
nation at his back, or leaning on the organisation of 
some powerful state. He had inherited a small 
Tartar kingdom in Central Asia, but he had lost this 
by an invasion of Osbegs. He wandered for a while 
as a homeless adventurer, and then got possession of 
another small kingdom in Afghanistan. Nothing 
could be slighter than this first germ of empire. 
This Tartar adventurer ruling Afghans in Cabul 
founded an Empire which in about seventy years 
extended over half India, and in a hundred years 
more extended nominally at least over the whole. 
I do not say that the Mogul Empire was ever 
comparable for greatness or solidity to that which we 


j have established, but like our own, even more than 
I our own, it seems built up without hands. The 
Company had at least English money, English military 
science, and the immortality of a corporation. Baber 
and his successors had none of these resources. It is 
difficult to discover any causes which favoured the 
growth of their Empire. All we can say is that 
Central Asia swarmed with a wandering population 
much inclined to the vocation of mercenary soldiers, 
which passed very readily for pay and plunder into 
the service of the ruler of Cabul. 

Secondly, our rule would be wonderful if the two 
hundred million Hindus had the habit of thinking all 
together, like a single nation. If not, there is nothing 
wonderful in it. A mere mass of individuals, uncon- 
nected with each other by any common feelings or 
interests, is easily subjected, because they may be 
induced to act against each other. Now I have 
pointed out how weak and insufficient are the bonds 
which unite the Hindus. If you wish to see how 
this want of internal union has operated in favour of 
our rule, you have only to read the history of the 
great Mutiny. It may have occurred to you when I 
said that a mutiny or even less than a mutiny on the 
part of our native troops would be instantly fatal to 
our Empire, that just such a mutiny actually happened 
in 1&57, and yet that our Empire still flourishes. 
But you are to observe that I spoke of a mutiny 

I caused by a nationality-movement spreading among 
the people and at last gaining the army. The mutiny 
of 1857 was not of this kind. It began in the army 


and was regarded passively by the people ; it was 
provoked by definite military grievances, and not by 
any disaffection caused by the feeling of nationality 
against our Government as foreign. But now let us 
ask ; in what way was this mutiny, when once it had 
broken out, put down ? I am afraid the only opinion 
that has ever obtained in England has been that it 
was crushed by the prodigious heroism of the English 
and their infinite superiority to the Hindus. Let me 
read you the account which Colonel Chesney gives of 
the matter in his Indian Polity. After remarking 
that an intensely strong esprit de corps had sprung up 
in the Bengal Army for observe that the Bombay 
and Madras armies were very slightly concerned in the 
mutiny an esprit de corps which was purely military 
and actually opposed to the feeling of nationality, 
since it welded together the Hindu and the Mussul- 
man elements (so that Colonel Chesney remarks : " In 
ill-discipline, bitterness of feeling against their masters, 
and confidence in their power to overthrow them, 
there was nothing to choose between Hindu or 
Mussulman"), he goes on to point out by what 
counter-movement this movement was met. "For- 
tunately the so-called Bengal Presidency was not 
garrisoned wholly by the regular army. Four 
battalions of Goorkhas, inhabitants of the Nepalese 
Himalaya, who had been kept aloof from the rest of 
the army, and had not imbibed the class-feeling which 
animated that body, with one exception stood loyal ; 
the conspicuous gallantry and devotedness to the 
(British cause displayed by one of these regiments 


especially won the admiration of their English corn* 
rades. Two extra-regiments of the line, which had 
been recruited from the Punjab and its neighbourhood, 
also stood firm. But the great help came from the 
Punjab Irregular Force, as it was termed a force, 
however, which was organised on quite as methodical 
and regular a footing, was quite as well-drilled and 
vastly better disciplined, than the regular army. 
This force consisted of six regiments of infantry and 
five of cavalry, to which may be added four regiments 
of Sikh local infantry, usually stationed in the Punjab. 
These troops were directly under the orders of the 
Government of that province, and not subject to that 
centralised system of administration which had a 
share in undermining the discipline of the regular 
army. It was with these troops and the handful of 
Europeans quartered in the upper part of India that 
the rebellion was first met. Meanwhile the sympathies 
of the people of the Punjab were enlisted on behalf 
of their rulers. A lately-conquered people, whose 
accustomed occupation had been superseded by the 
disbandment of their army, they entertained no good- 
will to the Hindustani garrisons which occupied their 
country, and welcomed with alacrity the appeal to 
arms made them to join in the overthrow of their 
hereditary enemies. Any number of men that could 
be required was forthcoming, and the levies thus 
raised were pushed down to the seat of war as fast 
as they could be equipped and drilled. And on the 
reorganisation of the Bengal army these Punjab levies 
have formed a large component part of it." 


You see, the mutiny was in a great measure put 
down by turning the races of India against each 
other. So long as this can be done, and so long as 
the population have not formed the habit of criti- 
cising their Government, whatever it be, and of 
rebelling against it, the government of India from 
England is possible, and there is nothing miraculous 
about it But, as I said, if this state of things should 
alter, if by any process the population should be 
welded into a single nationality, if our relation to it 
should come to resemble even distantly the relation 
of Austria to Italy, then I do not say we ought to 
begin to fear for our dominion; I say we Bought _to 
cease at once to hope for it. I do not imagine 
that the danger we have to apprehend is that of a 
popular insurrection. In some of the alarmist litera- 
ture, for instance, in Mr. Elliot's book entitled, 
Concerning John's Indicm Affairs, I find harrowing 
pictures of the misery of the poor ryot, and then the 
conclusion drawn as a matter of course that this 
misery must lead to an explosion of despair, by 
which we shall be expelled. Whether the descrip- 
tions are true this is not the place to inquire; but 
granting the truth of them for argument's sake, I do 
not find in history that revolutions are caused in this 
way. I find great populations cowering in abject 
misery for centuries together, but they do not rise in 
rebellion; no, if they cannot live they die, and if 
they can only just live, then they just live, their 
sensibilities dulled and their very wishes crushed out 
by want A population that rebels is a population 


that is looking up, that has begun to hope and to 
feel its strength. But if such a rising took place, it 
would be put down by the native soldiery so long as 
they have not learned to feel themselves brothers to 
the Hindu and foreigners to the Englishman that 
commands them. Bat on the other hand if this 
feeling ever does spring up, if India does begin to 
breathe as a single national whole and our own rule 
is perhaps doing more than ever was done by former 
Governments to make this possible then no such 
explosion of despair, even if there were cause for it, 
would be needed. For in that case the feeling would 
soon gain the native army, and on the native army 
ultimately we depend. We could subdue the mutiny 
of 1857, formidable as it was, because it spread 
through only a part of the army, because the people 
did not actively sympathise with it, and because it 
was possible to find native Indian races who would 
fight on our side. But the moment a mutiny is but 
threatened which shall be no mere mutiny, but the 
expression of a universal feeling of nationality, at 
that moment all hope is at an end, as all desire ought 
to be at an end, of preserving our Empire. For we 
are not really conquerors of India, and we cannot 
rule her as conquerors ; if we undertook to do so, it 
is not necessary to inquire whether we could succeed, 
for we should assuredly be ruined financially by the 
mere attempt, 



IN the last two lectures I was engaged in showing 
that the conquest of India and the government of it 
by the English have in a certain sense nothing 
wonderful about them. We may fairly be proud of 
many particular deeds done by our countrymen in 
India, and of many men who in India have shown a 
rare energy and talent for government, but it is a 
mistake to suppose that the Empire itself is a stand- 
ing proof of some vast superiority in the English 
race over the races of India. Without assuming any 
such vast superiority we are able to assign causes, 
which are sufficient to account alike for the growth 
and for the continuance of that Empire. It is not 
then wonderful, if by wonderful be meant simply 
miraculous, or difficult to account for by ordinary 

Nevertheless there is a sense in which it is not 
only wonderful, but far more wonderful than is 
commonly understood. It is wonderful rather in its 


consequences than in its causes. In other words, it 
is great in the peculiarly historical sense, for the 
pregnancy of events, as we remarked, is what gives 
them historical rank. By applying this test we 
raised the rank of several events in English history, 
especially the American Revolution, which for want 
of dramatic or romantic interest are too little studied. 
Let us now remark that the Indian Empire, however 
it may seem less marvellous on close examination 
than at first sight, will be found to gain in historic 
interest, as much as it loses in romantic. 

A vast Oriental Empire is not necessarily at all an 
interesting or a particularly important thing. There 
have been many such Empires in Asia, which historic- 
ally are less important than a single Greek or Tuscan 
city-republic. That they have been of wide extent, 
or even of long duration, does not make them inter- 
esting. Generally when we examine them we find 
that they are of a low organisation, and that under 
their weight the individual is crushed, so that he 
enjoys no happiness, makes no progress, and pro- 
duces nothing memorable. And perhaps when first 
we turn our thoughts towards our Indian Empire, 
we may receive the impression that it is not intrins- 
ically more interesting than the average of such 
overgrown Asiatic despotisms. We trust indeed 
that, thanks to the control of English public opinion, 
it may stand at a higher level of intelligence, 
morality, and philanthropy than the Mogul Empire 
which it has succeeded. But at best we think of it 
as a good specimen of a bad political system. We 



are not disposed to be proud of the succession of the 
Great Mogul. We doubt whether with all the merits 
of our administration the subjects of it are happy. 
We may even doubt whether our rule is preparing 
them for a happier condition, whether it may not be 
sinking them lower in misery, and we have our 
misgivings that perhaps a genuine Asiatic Govern- 
ment, and still more a national Government springing 
up out of the Hindu population itself, might in the 
long run be more beneficial because more congenial, 
though perhaps less civilised, than such a foreign 
unsympathetic government as our own. 

But let us consider that it is not quite every 
Empire which is thus uninteresting. The Roman 
Empire for example is not so. I may say this now 
without fear, because our views of history have 
grown considerably less exclusive of late years. 
There was a time no doubt when even the Roman 
Empire, because it was despotic and in some periods 
unhappy and half-barbarous, wa's thought uninterest- 
ing. A generation ago it was the reigning opinion 
that there is nothing good in politics but liberty, and 
that accordingly in history all those periods are to be 
passed over and, as it were, cancelled, in which 
liberty is not to be found. Along with this opinion 
there prevailed a habit of reading history, as we read 
poetry, only for an exalted kind of pleasure, and this 
habit led us, whenever we came to a period in which 
there was nothing glorious or admirable, to shut the 
book. In those days no doubt the Roman Empire 
too was condemned. The Roman Republic was held 


in honour for its freedom ; the earlier Eoman Empire 
was studied for the traces of freedom still discernible 
in it. But we used to shut the book at the end of 
the second century, as if all that followed for some 
ten centuries were decay and ruin ; and we did not 
take up the story. again with any satisfaction until 
the traces of liberty began to reappear in England 
and in the Italian republics. I suppose I may say 
that this way of regarding history is now obsolete. 
We do not now read it simply for pleasure, but in 
order that we may discover the laws of political 
growth and change, and therefore we hardly stop to 
inquire whether the period before us is glorious or 
dismal It is enough if it is instructive and teaches 
lessons not to be learned from other periods. We 
have also learnt that there are many other good 
things in politics besides liberty; for instance there 
is nationality, there is civilisation. Now it often 
happens that a Government which allows no liberty 
is nevertheless most valuable and most favourable to 
progress towards these other goals. Hence the 
Roman Empire not only in its beginnings but in its 
later developments up to the thirteenth century is 
now regarded, in spite of all the barbarism, all the 
superstition, and all the misery, as one of the most 
interesting of all historical phenomena. For it is 
perceived that this Empire is by no means without 
internal progress, without creative ideas, or without 
memorable results. We discern in it the embryo of 
that which is greatest and most wonderful, namely, 
the modern brotherhood or loose federation of 




civilised nations. And therefore, though it was a 
great Empire, and though it was despotically governed, 
it is studied with infinite curiosity and attention. 

This difference between the Roman Empire and 
other Empires founded on conquest, arises from the 
superiority in civilisation of the conquerors to the 
conquered. A great conquering race is not usually 
advanced in civilisation. The typical conqueror is 
some Cyrus or Zinghis Khan that is, the chieftain of 
a hardy tribe, which has been steeled by poverty and 
is tempted by plunder. Before such an assailant the 
advanced civilisation is apt to go down, so that in 
history we see civilisation often conquered, sometimes 
holding its ground, but not very often making great 
conquests, until in recent times the progress of inven- 
tion strengthened it by giving it new weapons. The 
great conquering race of history has been one of the 
least progressive, the Turcomans. It was from this 
race mainly, from the hive of tribesmen, who in 
Central Asia furnished mercenary armies to all the 
ambitious kings of Asia, that Baber and Akber drew 
the force with which they conquered India. Such is 
the ordinary rule, but when an exceptional case does 
occur, when high civilisation is spread by conquest 
over populations less advanced, the Empire thus 
formed has a very peculiar interest. Of such a 
nature for instance was the conquest of the East 
by Alexander the Great, because the Macedonians 
through their close relationship with the Greeks 
brought all Hellenism in their train. Accordingly, 
though the kingdoms of the Diadochi were in them- 


selves but military despotisms of a low type, yet the 
strangest and most memorable effects were produced 
by the fusion of Greek with Oriental thought. Still 
more remarkable, because it lasted much longer and 
because it is much better known, was the effect pro- 
duced upon the nations of Europe by the Koman 
Empire. In fact this great phenomenon stands out 
in the very centre of human history, and may be 
called the foundation of the present civilisation of 

Now it will make all the difference if the English 
conquest of India is to be classed along with the 
Greek conquest of the East and the Roman conquest 
of Gaul and Spain, and not along with those of the 
Great Turk and the Great Mogul. If it belongs to 
the latter class, we shall not be misled by any mere 
splendour or magnitude, but shall pronounce it to be 
a phenomenon of secondary interest, belonging to the 
history of barbarism rather than to that of civilisa- 
tion. But if it belongs to the former, we shall be 
prepared to place it among the transcendent events 
of the world, those events which rise as high above 
the average of civilised history as an ordinary 
Oriental conquest falls below it. 

There need be no question about the general fact 
that the ruling race in British India has a higher and 
more vigorous civilisation than the native races. We 
may say this without taking too much to ourselves. 
The English, as such, are perhaps not a race of 
Hellenic intelligence or genius, but the civilisation 
they inherit is not simply their own. It is European 


civilisation, the product of the united labour of the 
European races held together and animated by the 
spirit of the ancient world. What do we see on the 
other side? What estimate shall we form of the 
native civilisation of India ? 

As I have said so often, India is not one country, 
and therefore it has not one civilisation. It has not 
even so much unity as it seems to have, for Brahmin- 
ism by its peculiar trick of absorption and assimila- 
tion has brought together under one name forms of 
civilisation which are really diverse. If we look 
below the surface, we find two distinct layers of 
population, a fair-skinned and a dark-skinned race. 
The two layers are visible almost everywhere; the 
dark layer preponderates -in the South; it is out- 
numbered but clearly visible in Bengal ; it is evanes- 
cent perhaps higher up the Ganges ; but that the two 
races did really blend almost all over India appears 
from the fact that no language is now spoken which is 
a mere corruption or dialect of Sanscrit, as French 
and Italian are dialects of Latin. Every Hindi 
language, even when its vocabulary is most ex- 
clusively Sanscrit, has inflections and forms which are 
non- Aryan. 1 Now in estimating the civilisation of 
India we must begin by taking account ot this funda- 
mental distinction of race. The dark-skinned race is 
in many parts not civilised, and ought to be classed as 
barbarous. Mr. B. EL Hodgson says, " In every 
extensive jungly or hilly tract throughout the vast 
continent of India there exist hundreds of thousands 
1 Stated on the authority of Professor Cowell. 


of human beings in a state not materially different 
from that of the Germans as described by Tacitus." 

We are to distinguish again between the Hindu 
races proper and the great Mussulman immigration. 
There are not less than fifty millions of Mussulmans 
in India, and of these a large proportion consists of 
Afghans or Pathans, Arabs, Persians, and Turco- 
mans or Tartars who have at different times entered 
India either with, or in order to join, the armies of 
the Mussulman conquerors. Here we may expect to 
find, as everywhere in the Mussulman world, a sort 
of semi-civilisation, certain strong virtues but of a 
primitive kind; in short an equipment of ideas 
and views not sufficient for the modern forms of 

Then finally we come to the characteristically 
Indian population, the Aryan race which descended 
from the Punjab with the Sanscrit language on its 
lips, which spread itself mainly along the valley of 
the Ganges, but succeeded in spreading its peculiar 
theocratic system over the whole of India. Perhaps 
no race has shown a greater aptitude for civilisation. 
Even its barbarism, as reflected in the Vedic liter- 
ature, is humane and intelligent. And after its 
settlement in India it advanced normally along the 
path of civilisation. Its customs grew into laws, and 
were consolidated in codes. It imagined the division 
of labour. It created poetry and philosophy and the 
beginnings of science. Out of its bosom sprang a 
mighty religious reform called Buddhism, which 
remains to this day one of the leading religious 


systems of the world. So far then it resembled those 
gifted races which created our own civilisation. 

But the Aryan race did not make so much pro- 
gress in India as in Europe. As it showed in India 
an extreme incapacity for writing history, so that no 
record of it remains except where it came in contact 
with Greek or Mussulman invaders, we can only con- 
jecture the causes that may have retarded its pro- 
gress. But the great religious reform after some 
centuries of success for some reason or other failed ; 
Buddhism was expelled. The tyranny of the priestly 
caste was firmly established. No great and solid 
political system grew up ; there was little city-civil- 
isation. And then came the scourge of foreign 

Subjection for a long time to a foreign yoke is one 
of the most potent causes of national deterioration. 
And the few facts we know about the ancient Hindus 
confirm what we should conjecture about the moral 
effects produced upon them by their misfortunes. 1 
We have in the Greek writer Arrian a description of 
the Indian character, which we read with surprise. 
He says, "They are remarkably brave, superior in 
war to all Asiatics ; they are remarkable for simplicity 
and integrity ; so reasonable as never to have recourse 
to a lawsuit and so honest as neither to require locks 
to their doors nor writings to bind their agreements. 
No Indian was ever known to tell an untruth." 

1 See this subject treated at much greater length by Professor 
Max-Mliller in his recently published volume, What can India 
teach ust 


This description has no doubt an air of exaggeration 
about it, but, as Elphinstone remarks, it shows that 
an extraordinary change has passed over the Hindu 
character since it was written. Exaggeration consists 
in exhibiting the real features larger than they ought 
to be. But this description exhibits on an unnatural 
scale precisely the features that are wanting in the 
modern Hindu character. Modern travellers there- 
fore are found to exaggerate the very opposite 
features. They accuse the Hindu of want of veracity, 
want of valour, and extreme litigiousness. But the 
change is precisely such as might naturally be pro- 
duced by a long period of submission to the foreigner. 
On the whole then we find in India three stages 
of civilisation first, that of the hill-tribes, which is 
barbarism, then that which is perhaps sufficiently 
described as the Mussulman stage, and thirdly, the 
arrested and half-crushed civilisation of a gifted race, 
but a race which has from the beginning been in a 
remarkable manner isolated from the ruling and 
progressive civilisation of the world. Whatever this 
race achieved it achieved a long time ago. Its great 
epic poems, which some would compare to the greatest 
poems of the West, are ancient, though perhaps much 
less ancient than has been thought, so too its systems 
of philosophy, its scientific grammar. The country 
has achieved nothing in modern times. It may be 
compared to Europe, as Europe would have been if 
after the irruption of barbarians and the fall of ancient 
civilisation it had witnessed no revival, and had not 
been able to protect itself against the Tartar invasions 


of the tenth and thirteenth centuries. Let us suppose 
Europe to have vegetated up to the present time in 
the condition in which the tenth century saw it, 
exposed to periodical invasions from Asia, wanting in 
strongly marked nations and vigorous states, its 
languages mere vernaculars not used for the purposes 
of literature, all its wisdom enshrined in a dead 
language and doled out to the people by an imperious 
priesthood, all its wisdom too many centuries old, 
sacred texts of Aristotle, the Vulgate, and the Fathers, 
to which nothing could be added but in the way of 
commentary. Such seems to be the condition of the 
Aryans of India, a condition which has no resemblance 
whatever to barbarism, but resembles strikingly the 
medieval phase of the civilisation of the West. 

The dominion of Rome over the western races was 
the empire of civilisation over barbarism. Among 
Gauls and Iberians Eome stood as a beacon-light ; 
they acknowledged its brightness, and felt grateful 
for the illumination they received from it. The 
dominion of England in India is rather the empire of 
the modern world over the medieval. The light we 
bring is not less real, but it is probably less attractive 
and received with less gratitude. It is not a glorious 
light shining in darkness, but a somewhat cold day- 
light introduced into the midst of a warm gorgeous 

Many travellers have said that the learned Hindu, 
even when he acknowledges our power and makes 
use of our railways, is so far from regarding us with 
reverence that he very sincerely despises us. This 


is only natural We are not cleverer than the Hindu; 
our minds are not richer or larger than his. We 
cannot astonish him, as we astonish the barbarian, 
by putting before him ideas that he never dreamed 
of. He can match from his poetry our sublimest 
thoughts ; even our science perhaps has few concep- 
tions that are altogether novel to him. Our boast is 
not that we have more ideas or more brilliant ideas, 
but that our ideas are better tested and sounder. The 
greatness of modern, as compared with medieval or I 
ancient, civilisation is that it possesses a larger stock/ 
of demonstrated truth, and therefore infinitely more of I 
practical power. But the poetical or mystic philoso- 
pher is by no means disposed to regard demonstrated 
truth with reverence ; he is rather apt to call it 
shallow, and to sneer at its practical triumphs, while 
he revels for his part in reverie and the luxury of 
unbounded speculation. 

We in Europe however are pretty well agreed that 
the treasure of truth which forms the nucleus of the 
civilisation of the West is incomparably more sterling 
not only than the Brahminic mysticism with which it 
has to contend, but even than that Roman enlighten- 
ment which the old Empire transmitted to the nations 
of Europe. And therefore we shall hold that the 
spectacle now presented by India of a superior 
civilisation introduced by a conquering race is equal 
in interest and importance to that which the Roman 
Empire presented. Moreover the experiment is tried 
on a scale equally large. This Empire is usually 
judged by its immediate effect on the welfare of the 




inhabitants. It has removed evils of long standing, 
says one ; it has introduced new evils, says another. 
This whole controversy puts on one side the most 
characteristic work of our Empire, which is the 
introduction in the midst of Brahminism of European 
views of the Universe. No experiment equally 
interesting is now being tried on the surface of the 
globe. And when we consider how seldom it is put 
in the power of a nation to accomplish a task so 
memorable, we shall learn to take an eager interest in 
the progress of the experiment, and to check the 
despondency which might lead us to ask what profit 
accrues to ourselves from all this labour that we have 
undertaken under the sun. 

And now let us take note of a great advantage 
which we enjoy in working at this task It comes to 
light when we compare our Empire with the Roman. 
Rome was placed in the midst of its Empire, was 
subject to an overwhelming reaction from it, and 
was exposed to all the dangers which threatened it. 
England on the other hand is singularly disengaged 
from this enormous Empire which it governs, and 
feels but a slight reaction from it. 

Every historical student knows that it was the 
incubus of the Empire which destroyed liberty at 
Rome. Those old civic institutions, which had nursed 
Roman greatness and to which Rome owed all the 
civilisation which she was to transmit to the countries 
of the West, had to be given up as a condition of 
transmitting it. She had to adopt an organisation 
of, comparatively, a low type. Her civilisation, 


when she transmitted it, was already in decay. In a 
great part of the Empire her very language was 
worsted in the competition by the Greek, so that the 
Emperor M. Aurelius himself writes his Meditations 
in Greek. The Roman religion instead of making 
converts fell into neglect, and in the end gave way to 
a religion which had sprung up in a distant province 
of the Empire. There came a time when almost all 
that was Eoman in thought and feeling seemed to be 
dead in the Empire of Kome, when its Emperors were 
like Oriental kings and wore the diadem. We know 
now that this was not so, and that Roman influence, 
the Roman tradition, continued to sway the European 
mind for many centuries. But this sway was exerted 
secretly, through law and through Catholicism, at a 
later time through the Renaissance in literature and 
art. Think how different would have been the course 
of modern European history if the mother-city of its 
civilisation, instead of being in the midst of the 
nations it educated, instead of suffering in their 
discords and convulsions, instead of receiving as 
much barbarism from them as it gave civilisation to 
them, had stood outside, enjoying an independent 
prosperity, developing its own civilisation further 
with an unabated vigour of youth all the while that 
it guided the subject nations. 

The Roman Empire is in this respect a somewhat 
extreme case, because the conquering Power was so 
remarkably small compared to the empire it attached 
to itself. The light radiated not from a country but 
from a city, which was not so much a shining disk as 




a point of intense light. The Roman Republic had 
institutions which were essentially civic, and which 
began to break down as soon as they were extended 
even to the whole of Italy. But even where the 
conquering Power has a much broader basis, it is 
commonly altogether transformed by the effort of 
conquest. The wars by which the conquest is made, 
and then the establishments necessary to maintain 
the conquest, call for a new system of government 
and finance. Of all the unparalleled features which 
the English Empire in India presents, not one is so 
unique as the slightness of the machinery by which 
it is united to England and the slightness of its 
reaction upon England. How this peculiarity has 
been caused I have already explained. I have shown 
that our acquisition of India was made by a process 
so peculiar that it cost us nothing. Had England as 
a state undertaken to subvert the Empire of the 
Great Mogul, she would have destroyed her own 
constitution in the process, no less than Rome did 
by the conquest of Europe. For she would evidently 
have been compelled to convert herself into a military 
state of the most absolute type. But as England has 
merely inherited the throne which was founded in 
India by certain Englishmen who rose to the head of 
affairs in time of anarchy, she has been but very 
slightly disturbed in her domestic affairs by this 
acquisition. It has modified no doubt, as I have said, 
her foreign policy in a great degree, but it has 
produced no change in the internal character of the 
English state. In this respect India has produced as 


little effect upon England as those Continental States 
which have been in modern times connected with 
England in what is called a personal union, Hannover 
under the Georges, or Holland under William III. 
The consequence is that in this instance the operation 
of the higher civilisation on the lower is likely to be 
far more energetic and continuous than in those 
ancient examples of the Roman Empire or the Greek 
Empire in the East. In those cases the lower civilisa- 
tion killed the higher in the same moment that 
the higher raised the lower towards its own level. 
Hellenism covered the East, but the greatness of 
Greece came to an end. All nations crowded into 
the Roman citizenship; but what became of the 
original Romans themselves ? England on the other 
hand is not weakened at all by the virtue that goes 
out from her. She tries to raise India out of the 
medieval into the modern phase, and in the task she 
meets with difficulties and even incurs dangers, but 
she incurs no risk whatever of being drawn down by 
India towards the lower level, or even of being 
checked for a moment in her natural development. 

This has been the result ; but for a long time it 
was uncertain that the result would be such. In the 
history of British India there are two most interest- 
ing chapters I should say that in the whole history 
of the world there are no chapters more instructive 
in which we learn, first, how a mischievous reaction 
from India upon England was prevented ; secondly, 
how European civilisation was, after much delay and 
hesitation, resolutely brought to bear upon India 




The first chapter embraces chronologically the first 
half of George IIL's reign, that stormy period of 
transition in English history when at the same time 
America was lost and India won. It covers the two 
great careers of Clive and Hastings, and the e:ad of 
the struggle is marked by the reign of Lord Corn- 
wallis, which began in 1785. The second chapter 
embraces about the first forty years of the present 
century, and the crowning point of this development is 
the Governor-Generalship of Lord William Bentinck 
For in the Indian Empire Lord Cornwallis and Lord 
W. Bentinck have been the two great legislators after 
Hastings, as Lord Wellesley, Lord Hastings and 
Lord Dalhousie have been, after Clive, the great 
conquerors, and when we consider, as we are doing 
now, the progress of civilisation in the Empire, the 
great legislators naturally demand our attention 

First then let us consider the reaction which at 
the beginning India threatened to have upon England, 
and how this danger was averted. The literature of 
the seventies and the eighties of the eighteenth 
century is full of that alarm which found its strongest 
expression in the speeches of Burke against Warren 
Hastings. England had taken a sudden plunge into 
the unknown abyss of Hindu politics. Englishmen 
were becoming finance ministers or commanders of 
mercenary troops to Mussulman Nawabs, and were 
bringing back to England the plunder of the Mogul 
Empire, acquired no one knew how. There were two 
dangers here first, lest the English character should 


be corrupted, for those who take the most favourable 
view of the Hindu character would admit that Hindu 
politics in the last century were unspeakably corrupt ; 
secondly, lest the wealthy adventurers, returning to 
England and entering into English political life with 
ideas formed in Asia, should upset the balance of 
the constitution. This was particularly to be feared 
under the old electoral system, which allowed so 
many seats in Parliament to be put up to sale. 
Moreover in an age when Government derived its 
chief power from patronage, there was a danger lest 
one of the contending parties should make a snatch 
at the vast patronage of India, a prize which, whether 
it fell to the King or to the Whig party, would 
probably make its possessor supreme in the State. 

To give you a specimen of the fears which were 
entertained by leading men, I will read a passage 
from William Pitt's motion for parliamentary reform 
made in 1782. He said, "Our laws have with a 
jealous care provided that no foreigner shall give a 
single vote for a representative in Parliament ; and 
yet we now see foreign princes not giving votes but 
purchasing seats in this House, and sending their 
agents to sit with us as representatives of the nation. 
No man can doubt what I allude to. We have 
sitting among us the members of the Eajah of Tan- 
jore and the Nawab of Arcot, the representatives of 
petty Eastern despots ; and this is notorious, publicly 
talked of and heard with indifference; our shame 
stalks abroad in the open face of day, it is become 
too common even to excite surprise. We treat it a8 


a matter of small importance that some of the electors 
of Great Britain have added treason to their corrup- 
tion and have traitorously sold their votes to foreign 
Powers; that some of the members of our Senate 
are at the command of a distant tyrant ; that our 
Senators are no longer the representatives of British 
virtue but of the vices and pollutions of the East." 

The great incidents of this struggle are, the fall 
of the Coalition Ministry on the India Bill of Fox 
and the passing of the India Bill of Pitt, the trial of 
Warren Hastings, the succession of Lord Cornwallis 
to the Governor-Generalship, and the administrative 
reform carried out by him in India. I merely touch 
these great occurrences to mark their significance 
and to show what results flowed from them. If I 
went into detail, I might show that much was un- 
reasonable in the clamour raised against the India 
Bill of Fox, and that there was much unreasonable 
violence in the attacks made upon Hastings. I might 
also criticise the double system introduced by the 
India Bill of Pitt. But, taking a broad view, it must 
be said that the particular dangers feared were very 
successfully averted, that Lord Cornwallis established 
a title to gratitude and Edmund Burke to immortal 
glory. For the stain of immorality did pass away 
as by magic from the administration of the Company 
under the rule of Lord Cornwallis, a lesson never to 
be forgotten was taught to Governors -General, and 
at the same time the political danger from the con- 
nection with India passed away. 

England had broken the toils that threatened to 


imprison her. But how far was she, who had so 
stoutly refused to be influenced by India, entitled to 
influence India in her turn 1 We could not fail to see 
the enormous difference between our civilisation and 
that of India ; we could not fail on the whole greatly 
to prefer our own. But had we any right to impose 
our views upon the natives? We had our own 
Christianity, our own views of philosophy, of history 
and science ; but were we not bound by a sort of 
tacit contract with the natives to hold all these things 
officially in abeyance 1 This was the view which was 
taken at first. It was not admitted that England 
was to play the part of Eome to her empire; no; 
she was to put her civilisation on one side and govern 
according to Indian ideas. This view was the more 
winning as the new and mysterious world of Sanscrit 
learning was revealing itself to those first generations 
of Anglo-Indians. They were under the charm of a 
remote philosophy and a fantastic history. They 
were, as it was said, Brahminised, and would not 
hear of admitting into their enchanted Oriental en- 
closure either the Christianity or any of the learning 
of the West. 

I have not space left in this lecture to do more 
than indicate how we were gradually led to give up 
this view and to stand out boldly as teachers and 
civilisers. The change began in 1813, when, on the 
renewal of the Company's charter, a sum was directed 
to be appropriated to the revival of learning and the 
introduction of useful arts and sciences. Over this 
enactment an Education Committee wrangled for 




twenty years. Were we to use our own judgments, 
or were we to understand learning and science in the 
Oriental sense? Were we to teach Sanscrit and 
Arabic, or English ? 

Never on this earth was a more momentous ques- 
tion discussed. Under Lord William Bentinck in 
1835 the discussion came to a head, and by a re- 
markable coincidence a famous man was on the spot 
to give lustre to and take lustre from a memorable 
controversy. It was Macaulay's Minute that decided 
the question in favour of English. In that Minute 
or in Sir C. Trevelyan's volume on Education in 
India you can study it. Only remark a strange 
oversight that was made. The question was dis- 
cussed as if the choice lay between teaching Sanscrit 
and Arabic on the one hand, or English on the other. 
All these languages alike are to the mass of the 
population utterly strange. Arabic and English are 
foreign, and Sanscrit is to the Hindus what Latin is 
to the natives of Europe. It is the original language 
out of which the principal spoken languages have 
been formed, but it is dead. It has been dead a far 
longer time than Latin, for it had ceased to be a 
spoken language in the third century before Christ. 
By far the greater part of the famous Sanscrit poems 
and writings, philosophical or theological, were 
written artificially and by a learned effort, like the 
Latin poems of Vida and Sannazaro. Now over 
Sanscrit Macaulay had an easy victory, for he had 
only to show that English had poetry at least as 
good, and philosophy, history, and science a great deal 


better. But why should there be no choice but 
between dead languages? Could Macaulay really 
fancy it possible to teach two hundred and fifty 
millions of Asiatics English ? Probably not, probably 
he thought only of creating a small learned class. I 
imagine too that his own classical training had 
implanted in his mind a fixed assumption that a dead 
language is necessary to education. But if India is 
really to be enlightened, evidently it must be through 
the medium neither of Sanscrit nor of English, but of 
the vernaculars that is, Hindustani, Hindi, Bengali, 
etc. These, under some vague impression that they 
were too rude to be made the vehicles of science or 
philosophy, Macaulay almost refuses to consider, but 
against these his arguments in favour of English 
would have been powerless. 

But though this great oversight was made it hae 
since been remarked and, since the education despatch 
of Sir Charles Wood in 1854, in some measure 
repaired the decision to which Macaulay's Minute 
led remains the great landmark in the history of our 
Empire, considered as an institute of civilisation. It 
marks the moment when we deliberately recognised 
that a function had devolved on us in Asia similar to 
that which Eome fulfilled in Europe, the greatest 
function which any Government can ever be called 
upon to discharge. 



THE sum of what I have laid before you up to this 
point is that in India a result has been produced by 
causes less wonderful than is commonly supposed, 
which result is in magnitude more wonderful, and in 
the consequences which may possibly flow from it far 
more wonderful and great, than is imagined. But in 
showing how such a result could be produced without 
a miracle I have laid stress upon another peculiarity 
of this Empire, which is of fundamental importance, 
namely the slightness of the machinery which con- 
nects it with England. Let us now remark that in 
this respect our Indian Empire resembles our colonies. 
There is of course this vast difference, that our chief 
colonies determine in most matters their own policy 
through Governments which spring up by a constitu- 
tional process out of the colonial assembly, and that 
India has no such independent initiative, the Viceroy 
himself being liable to be overruled by the Indian 
Secretary at home. But at the same time there is 


this great resemblance, that India, like the colonies, 
has been held at arm's length, that its Government 
has never been suffered to approach the Home 
Government so closely as to blend with it, or to 
modify its character, or to hamper its independent 
development. India is both constitutionally and 
financially an independent Empire. If the Empire 
of the Great Mogul had continued in its original 
vigour up to the present time, no doubt in foreign 
affairs the history of England would differ consider- 
ably from what it is. Several of our wars with 
France would have taken a different turn, especially 
that war of which the Egyptian expedition of Bona- 
parte was a main incident. We can imagine too 
that the Crimean War would not have happened, 
and that we should not have taken the interest we 
did in the recent Russo-Turkish war. But the con- 
stitution of the English state would have been 
precisely what it is, and our domestic history would 
have run almost exactly the same course. Only 
once, I think, namely in 1783, has India come quite 
into the foreground of parliamentary debate and 
absorbed the attention of the political world. Even 
in the Mutiny of 1857, deeply as our feelings were 
stirred, the course of home politics was not affected 
by the affairs of India. 

Accordingly if the Indian Empire were lost, the 
immediate and purely political effects of the change 
would not be great. A Secretaryship of State would 
disappear ; the work of Parliament would be lightened. 
Our foreign policy would be relieved of a great 


burden of anxiety. Otherwise little would immedi- 
ately be changed. In this respect I say the Indian 
Empire resembles the colonies, and we are led to 
perceive a universal characteristic of that expansion 
of England which is the subject of these lectures. I 
have remarked before that this expansion does not 
seem at first sight to be of the nature of organic 
growth. When the boy expands into the man, the 
boy disappears. He does not increase by an accretion 
visibly different from the original boy and attached 
to him so as to be easily peeled off. But it is in 
such a way that England seems to have increased. 
For the original England remains distinctly visible at 
the heart of Greater Britain, she still forms a distinct 
organism complete in herself, and she has not even 
formed the habit of thinking of her .colonies and her 
Indian Empire along with herself. 

Turgot compared colonies to fruit which hangs on 
the tree only till it is ripe. And indeed it might 
seem natural to picture the aggregate of English 
communities rather as a family than as an individual. 
We may say that the England of Queen Elizabeth's 
time has now a large family scattered over distant 
seas, that this family consists for the most part of 
thriving colonies, but that it includes also a corpor- 
ation which had the good luck in the course of its 
trade to become ruler of a vast country. There is 
no objection to such an image, provided it is regarded 
only as an image, and is not converted by sleight of 
hand into an argument. But we know that a family, 
at least in the present state of society, is always 


tending towards practical dissolution. It is a close 
union so long as the children are young ; it becomes 
a federation, and at last a loose federation, as they 
grow up ; finally, in the present state of society, as 
the grown-up sons disperse or emigrate in quest of a 
livelihood and the daughters are married, it often 
ceases practically to be a federation or even a perma- 
nent alliance. Now we may call our Empire a 
family, but we must not without further investi- 
gation assume that it will have the fate which cannot 
even be said generally to attend literal families, but 
which attends them in the very peculiar form of 
society in which we happen to live. The dissolving 
causes which act upon families do not act in an equal 
degree upon states, and, what is especially to be 
observed, they do not act upon them nearly so much as 
they used to do. In the time of Turgot and of the 
American Revolution there was much force in the 
comparison between a distant dependency and a son 
who had left home arid so practically passed out of 
the family. But there is much less force in it at the 
present day, when inventions have drawn the whole 
globe close together, and a new form of state on a 
larger scale than was known in former ages has 
appeared in Russia and the United States. 

This consideration should make us hesitate in 
drawing the obvious conclusion from the great fact 
that the connection of England with her colonies and 
her Indian Empire has been all along so remarkably 
slight. Above I pointed out with respect to the 
colonies that, though their connection with the 


mother-country was loose at the outset, so that the 
secession of the American colonies was a natural 
effect of the causes then in operation, yet the connec- 
tion does not steadily grow slighter and slighter, but 
on the contrary increases and becomes closer. The 
colonies have practically approached much nearer 
to us, all that was invidious in the old colonial 
system has been repealed, and they have now 
become a natural outlet for a superfluous popula- 
tion, whereas in the old time, when there was as 
yet no surplus population, they were peopled 
principally by discontented refugees, who bore a 
grudge against the country they had left. A 
similar law governs our connection with India. 
The machinery by which the connection is main- 
tained is slight. England has not allowed herself to 
be hampered by her relation to India. Enormous as 
the dominion is, England remains what she was 
before she acquired it, so that, as I have said, the 
connection could be broken any day, though it has 
lasted a hundred years, without any violent wrench 
or any dislocation in our domestic system. But if it 
be inferred from this that a connection so slight must 
sooner or later snap, before we can admit such an 
inference we must consider another question. In 
which direction is the tendency? Does the slight 
connection grow looser and looser, or does it on the 
other hand tighten with time 1 And here again, as 
|in the case of the colonies, we shall find that the 
I general tendency of our age, which brings together 
I what is remote and which favours large political 


unions, operates to strengthen rather than to weaken/ 
the connection between England and India. 

Macculloch, in the Note on India in his edition of 
Adam Smith, speaks of the trade between England 
and India about 1811 that is, in the days of the 
monopoly as being utterly insignificant, of little 
more importance than that between England and 
Jersey or the Isle of Man. Now if trade be one of 
the principal bonds which unite communities together, 
we shall have some criterion of the tendency, and of 
the strength of the tendency, whether towards union 
or towards separation, between England and India, by 
comparing the present with the former state of the 
trade between the two countries. It was supposed in 
old times that the Hindus had unalterable habits, and 
therefore that they would never become consumers of 
European produce. But now instead of Jersey or the 
Isle of Man we compare our trade with India to that 
with the United States and France that is, with the 
greatest commercial communities and we find that 
though indeed we receive from India much less than 
from them (thirty-two millions, as against thirty-nine 
from France and not less than a hundred and three 
from America in 1881), yet India comes next to them 
as an exporting country, and on the other hand 
India heads France and all other nations except the 
United States as an importer from England, for she 
took in the same year twenty-nine millions, whereas 
the countries which came next that is, Australia 
and Germany took twenty -one and seventeen re- 


Now here is a prodigious advance which has been 
made in the present century, and it measures, you 
will observe, the gradual approach of the two popula- 
tions towards each other, not their gradual separation 
from each other. And thus, though politically the 
direct effects of disruption would not be great, 
economically they would be enormous. For we are to 
remember that it is owing to the political connection 
between the two countries that this commercial inter- 
course has been allowed to exist, and that it would 
cease perhaps if India became independent, and 
certainly if she passed into the hands of another 
European Power such as Russia. At the beginning 
of the century indeed we might have severed our- 
selves from India with little anxiety, and those 
struggles with France about our commercial factories 
at Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta may seem to have 
had no sufficient motive, since the trade carried on at 
those stations was but insignificant. It is no longer 
so; the commercial stake we have in India is now 
very large that is, we are more closely bound to 
India than we were. Look again at the moral 
approach that England has made towards India 
during the same time. Originally we had no sort 
of interest in the affairs of the Hindus among whom 
we had stationed commercial agencies. The Mogul 
Empire or the dissolution of the Mogul Empire did 
not concern us. It was no affair of ours whether the 
Hindus had a bad Government, or had no Govern- 
ment at all and were merely the prey of armed 
plunderers. Even when we began to conquer them, 


it was not on their account but partly to resist the 
French, partly to protect our factories from sudden 
attack. For a long time after the Company had 
become a sovereign Power, this indifference on our 
part to the welfare of the natives continued. Adam 
Smith, writing in the eighties or about the end of 
the reign of Warren Hastings, says that there never 
was a Government so wholly indifferent to the wel- 
fare of its subjects. This was only the natural conse- 
quence of the false position in which a trading 
company suddenly turned into a Government found 
itself. The anomaly and the effect of it could not 
but last as long as the Company. But since 1858 it 
has been removed. The very appearance of a selfish 
object is gone. The Gqvernment is now as sincerely 
paternal as any Government can be, and, as I ex- 
plained, it has abandoned the affectation of not impart- 
ing the superior enlightenment we know ourselves to 
possess on the ground that the Hindus do not want it. 
At the same time the introduction of the tele- 
graph and the shortening of the voyage to India, 
first by the overland route and since by the Suez 
Canal, has brought India much more within reach of 
England. It has often been contended that the 
effect of this change is bad, that the constant inter- 
ference of Downing Street and still more of English 
public opinion is mischievous. Let this be granted 
for argument's sake. Whether it be desirable or 
undesirable that India should be more closely united 
with England, is not now the question. What con- 
cerns us at present is the fact that, for good or for 


evil, the connection of England with India does not 
diminish but increases. 

Once more, let us remark the speed with which 
our intercourse with India increases. Mr. Cunning- 
ham in his volume lately published, entitled British 
India and its Rulers, compares the increase of the 
foreign trade of India between 1820 and 1880 with 
that of the foreign trade of Great Britain itself in 
the same period. This last increase has often excited 
astonishment : English foreign trade rose from about 
80 to about 650 millions sterling. But Mr. Cunning- 
ham points out that the increase of Indian trade in 
the same period has been even greater, and, as of 
course the foreign trade of India is principally with 
England, it follows that the tendency to commercial 
union between the two countries is prodigiously strong, 
so that fifty years hence, if no catastrophe takes 
place, the union will be infinitely closer than it is now. 

If we combine all the facts I have hitherto ad- 
duced in order to form a conception of our Indian 
Empire the result is very singular. An Empire 
similar to that of Rome, in which we hold the 
position not merely of a ruling but of an educating 
and civilising race (and thus, as in the marriage of 
Faust with Helen of Greece, one age is married to 
another, the modern European to the medieval 
Asiatic spirit); this Empire held at arm's length, 
paying no tribute to us, yet costing nothing except 
through the burden it imposes on our foreign policy, 
and neither modifying nor perceptibly influencing 
our busy domestic politics ; this Empire nevertheless 


held firmly and with a grasp which does not slacken 
but visibly tightens ; the union of England and India, 
ill-assorted and unnatural as it might seem to be, 
nevertheless growing closer and closer with great 
rapidity under the influence of the modern condi- 
tions of the world, which seem favourable to vast 
political unions; all this makes up the strangest, 
most curious, and perhaps most instructive chapter of 
English history. It has been made the subject of 
much empty boasting, while those who have looked 
deeper have often been disposed to regard the whole 
enterprise with despondency, as a kind of romantic 
adventure which can lead to nothing permanent. 
But, as time passes, it rather appears that we are in 
the hands of a Providence which is greater that all 
statesmanship, that this fabric so blindly piled up 
has a chance of becoming a part of the permanent 
edifice of civilisation, and that the Indian achieve- 
ment of England as it is the strangest, may after all 
turn out to be the greatest, of all her achievements. 

At this point again we are led to turn our eyes 
from the present to the past, and to inquire how it 
could happen to us to undertake such an enterprise. 
I devoted a lecture to the historical question by what 
force we were able to subdue the people of India 
to our government; but this question is different. 
That was the question, how? this is the question, 
why ? We see that without any supernatural force 
or genius it was possible to raise such an Empire, but 
what was the motive which impelled us to do it? 
How many lives, some of them noble and heroic, 


many of them most laborious, have been spent in 
piling up this structure of empire ! Why did they 
do it? Or if they themselves looked no further than 
their instructions, what was the motive of the 
authority that gave them their instructions ? If this 
was the Company, why did the Company desire to 
conquer India, and what could they gain by doing so 1 
If it was the English Government, what could be its 
object, and how could it justify such an undertaking 
to Parliament 1 We may have been at times too war- 
like, but the principal wars we have waged have borne 
the appearance at least of being defensive. Naked 
conquest for its own sake has never had attractions 
for us. What then did we propose to ourselves 1 

The English Government assuredly has gained 
nothing through this acquisition, for if it has not 
hampered their budgets by the expense of con- 
quest, on the other hand it has not lightened them 
by any tribute. If we hope to discover the guilty 
party by the old plan of asking Cui bono ? that is, 
Who profited by it? the answer must be, English 
commerce has profited by it. We have here a great 
foreign trade, which may grow to be enormous, and 
this trade is secured to us so long as we are masters 
of the Government of India. Here no doubt is a 
substantial acquisition, which stands us in good stead 
now that we find by experience how tenacious of pro- 
tection foreign Governments are. May it then be 
assumed that this trade has been our sole object all 
along ? 

The hypothesis is plausible, and it is made more 


plausible still when we remark that our Empire began 
evidently in commerce. To defend our factories and 
for no other purpose we took arms in the first 
instance. Our first wars in India, as they belong to 
the same time, so belong evidently to the same class, 
as our colonial wars with France. They were pro- 
duced by the same great cause on which I have 
insisted so much, the competition of the Western 
states for the wealth of the regions discovered in the 
fifteenth century. We had trade-settlements in India 
as we had trade-settlements in America. In both 
countries we encountered the same rivals, the French. 
In both countries English and French traders shook 
their fists at. each other from rival commercial stations. 
In America our New England and Virginia stood 
opposed to their Acadie and Canada ; and similarly 
our Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay stood opposed 
in India to their Pondicherry, Chandernagore, and 

The crisis came in America and India at once 
between 1740 and 1760, when in two wars divided 
by a very hollow and imperfect peace these two 
states struggled for supremacy, and in both quarters 
England was victorious. From victory over France 
in India we proceeded without a pause to empire 
over the Hindus. This fact, combined with the 
other fact, equally striking, of the great trade which 
now exists between England and India, leads \ery 
naturally to a theory that our Indian Empire has 
grown up from first to last out of the spirit of trade. 
We may imagine that after having established our 


settlements on the coast and defended these settle- 
ments both from the native Powers and from the 
envy of the French, we then conceived the ambition 
of extending our commerce further inland; that 
perhaps we met with new states, such as Mysore or 
the Mahratta Confederacy, which at first were un- 
willing to trade with us, but that in our eager avarice 
we had recourse to force, let loose our armies upon 
them, broke down their custom-houses and flooded 
their territories in turn with our commodities ; that 
in this way we gradually advanced our Indian trade, 
which at first was insignificant, until it became con- 
siderable, and at last, when we had not only intimi- 
dated but actually overthrown every great native 
Government, when there was no longer any Great 
Mogul, or any Sultan of Mysore, or any Peishwa of 
the Mahrattas, or any Nawab Vizir of Oude, or any 
Maharajah and Khalsa of the Sikhs, then, all 
restraints having been* removed, our trade became 

But it will be found on closer examination that 
the facts do not answer to this theory. True it is 
that our Empire began in trade, and that lately there 
has been an enormous development of trade. But the 
course of affairs in history is not necessarily a straight 
line, so that when any two points in it are determined 
its whole course is known. The truth is that if the 
spirit of English trade had been thus irrepressible and 
bent upon overcoming all the obstacles which lay in 
its path, it would not have raised wars in India, for 
the main obstacle was not there, The main obstacle 


to English trade was not the jealousy of native 
Princes, but the jealousy of the East India Company 
itself. Accordingly there has been no correspondence 
in time between the increase of trade and the advance 
of conquest. 

Our trade on the contrary continued to be in- 
significant in spite of all our conquests until about 
1813, and it began to advance with great rapidity 
soon after 1830. These dates point to the true cause 
of progress in trade, and they show that it is wholly 
independent of progress in conquest, for they are the 
dates of the successive Acts of Parliament by which 
the Company was deprived of its monopoly. Thus 
it appears that, while it was by the East India 
Company that India was conquered, it was not by 
the East India Company, but rather by the de- 
struction of the East India Company, that the great 
trade with India was brought into existence. Our 
conquests in India were made by an exclusive 
chartered Company, but our Indian trade did not 
greatly prosper until that Company ceased practically 
to exist. 

In order to make this clearer, it will be convenient 
here to give such an outline of the history of the East 
India Company as may mark the principal stages of 
its progress and those alone. The East India Com- 
pany then came into existence in the year 1600 
that is, near the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign. In 
the view we are now taking of the expansion of 
England it deserves note that this occurrence took 
place just at that time and at no time either earlier 


or later. England, we have seen, assumed its 
modern that is, its maritime and oceanic character 
about the time of the Spanish Armada, since it was 
then that its first race of naval heroes appeared, and 
then too that it made its first attempts to colonise 
America. If this general statement be true, we 
ought to look in this period also for our first settle- 
ments in India. Just in this period we find them, 
for the creation of the East India Company took 
place twelve years after the defeat of the Armada. 

It was created for trade, and it remained devoted 
to trade for a hundred and forty-eight years. During 
this period several important occurrences in its 
history took place, but none so important as to 
deserve our attention here. It was in 1748 that the 
disturbances occurred in the Deccan which forced the 
Company to undertake on a considerable scale the 
functions of government and war. Then began its 
second and memorable period, which is nearly as 
long as the first ; it embraces a hundred and ten years 
and ends with the abolition of the Company by Act 
of Parliament in 1858. It is this second period alone 
with which we are concerned at present. In order 
to understand the course of development, we must 
endeavour to subdivide it. 

It happens accidentally that there is a certain 
regularity in the course of events over a great part 
of this period, which rarely occurs in history and 
which is very helpful to the memory. The Company 
being dependent on Parliament for a renewal of its 
Charter, and its affairs having since 1748 taken such 


a strange turn, it was natural that Parliament should 
grant the renewal only for a definite term, and at the 
end of the term should reconsider the condition of 
the Company and make alterations in its organisa- 
tion. In this way the Company became subject to a 
transformation, which was strictly periodic and re- 
curred at absolutely equal intervals. These intervals 
were of the length of twenty years, beginning with 
Lord North's Regulating Act in 1773. If then we 
bear this date in mind, we acquire at the same time 
four other dates which of necessity are of primary 
importance in the history of the Company. These 
are 1793, 1813, 1833, and 1853. 

We shall find these five dates quite as important 
as we might expect, and they form a very convenient 
framework for the history of the Company. The 
first is one of the most important of all. If 1748 
marks the beginning of the movement which led to 
the creation of British India, 1773 may be said to 
mark the creation itself of British India. In that 
year began the line of Governors-General, though for 
a long time they had not the title of Governor- 
General of India but only of Bengal ; then too was 
founded the Supreme Court of Calcutta. The 
enormous danger which attended the new state of 
our Indian affairs was at the same time met, and the 
root of corruption cut through, by the abolition of 
the power in the Company's affairs of the share- 
holders or so-called Proprietors. 

The next renewal in 1793 is less important, 
though the debates which then took place are 


interesting now for the picture they present of the 
phase of Anglo-Indian life when it was braJiminised, 
when the attempt was made to keep India as a 
kind of inviolate paradise, into which no European 
and especially no missionary should be suffered to 
penetrate. But the date 1793 is itself as important 
as any other, being the date not merely of a renewal 
of the Charter, but also of the famous Permanent 
Settlement of Bengal, one of the most memorable 
acts of legislation in the history of the world. 

It was at the next renewal in 1813 that the aged 
Warren Hastings, then in his eightieth year, came 
from his retirement to give evidence before the 
House of Commons. This date marks the moment 
when the monopoly begins to crumble away, when 
the brahminical period comes to an end, and England 
prepares to pour the civilisation, Christianity, and 
science of the West into India. 

In 1833 the monopoly disappears, and the 
Company may perhaps be said practically to have 
ceased to exist. Henceforward it is little more than 
a convenient organisation, convenient because of the 
tradition it represents and the experience which it 
guards, by means of which India is governed from 
England. At this time too the systematic legislative 
labours of our Indian Government begin. 

Finally 1853 is the date of the introduction of the 
system of appointment by competition. That old 
question which had convulsed England in 1783 and 
which statesmen had been afraid to touch since, the 
question who should have the patronage of India or 


how it should be dispensed without shaking the 
constitution of England, was in this way solved. 

But here we are reminded that history cannot for 
a very long time proceed in this regular manner, so 
convenient to our memories. The convulsion of 
1857 put a final end to this periodicity, and 1873, 
the centenary of the Eegulating Act, is no great 
Indian date. 

It appears from this outline that 1813 is the 
year when the monopoly was first seriously curtailed 
and 1833 the year when it was destroyed. Now 
Macculloch when he speaks of the utter insignificance 
of our old trade with India has before him the 
statistics up to the year 1811, and the statistics which 
show so vast an increase in the modern trade 
refer to the years after 1813, and especially to those 
after 1833. In other words, so long as India was in 
the hands of those whose object was trade, the trade 
remained insignificant; the trade became great and 
at last enormous, when India began to be governed 
for itself and trade-considerations to be disregarded. 
This might seem a paradox, did we not remember 
that in dismissing trade-considerations we also de- 
stroyed a monopoly. But there is nothing wonderful 
in the fact that an exclusive Company, even when its 
first object is trade, carries on trade languidly, 
nothing wonderful in a vast trade springing up as 
soon as the shackles of monopoly were removed. 

On the other hand we do not find that the increase 
of trade corresponds at all to the augmentation of 
our territorial possessions in India. 


There have been four great rulers in India to 
whom the German title of Mehrer des Reichs or 
Increaser of the Empire might be given. These 
are Lord Olive, the founder, Lord Wellesley, Lord 
Hastings, and Lord Dalhousie. Koughly it may be 
said that the first established us along the Eastern 
Coast from Calcutta to Madras ; the second and 
third overthrew the Mahratta power and established 
us as lords of the middle of the country and of the 
Western side of the peninsula; and the fourth, be- 
sides consolidating these conquests, gave us the 
north-west and carried our frontier to the Indus. 
There were considerable intervals between these 
conquests, and accordingly they fall into separate 
groups. Thus there was a period of conquest be- 
tween 1748 and 1765, which we may label with the 
name of Clive, a second period beginning in 1798, 
which may be said to have lasted, though with a 
long pause, till about 1820 ; this period may bear the 
names of Wellesley and Lord Hastings ; and a third 
period of war between 1839 and 1850, but of this the 
first part was unfortunate, and only the second part 
led to conquests, of which it fell to Lord Dalhousie 
to reap the harvest 

Now there was no correspondence whatever in 
time between these territorial advances and the 
advance of trade. Thus we remarked how insignifi- 
cant the trade of India still was in 1811, and yet 
this was shortly after the vast annexations of Lord 
Wellesley. On the other hand trade took a great 
leap about 1830, and this is one of the peaceful in- 


tervals of the history. About the time of the mutiny 
annexation almost ceased, and yet the quarter 
of a century in which no conquests have been made 
has been a period of the most rapid growth in trade. 

And thus the assertion which is often made, and 
which seems to be suggested by a rapid survey of the 
history the assertion namely that the Empire is the 
mere result of a reckless pursuit of trade proves to 
be as untrue as the other assertion sometimes made, 
that it is the result of a reckless spirit of military 

Our first step to empire was very plainly taken 
with a view simply of defending our factories. The 
Madras Presidency grew out of an effort, which, in 
the first instance, was quite necessary, to protect Fort 
St. George and Fort St. David from the French. 
The Bengal Presidency grew in a similar way out of 
the evident necessity of protecting Fort William 
and punishing the Mussulman Nawab of Bengal, 
Surajah Dowlah, for his atrocity of the Black Hole. 

So far then the causation is clear. In the period 
which immediately followed, the revolutionary and 
corrupt period of British India, it is undeniable that 
we were hurried on by mere rapacity. The violent 
proceedings of Warren Hastings at Benares, in Oude, 
and Rohilcund, were of the nature of money-specula- 
tions. If the later history of British India had been 
of the same kind, our Empire might fairly be said to 
be similar to the Empire of the Spanish in Hispaniola 
and Peru, and to have sprung entirely out of the 
reckless pursuit of gain. 


But a change took place with the advent of Lord 
Cornwallis in 1785. Partly by the example of hia 
high character, partly by a judicious reform, which 
consisted in making the salaries of the servants of the 
Company considerable enough to remove the excuse 
for corruption, he purged the service of its immoral- 
ity. From that time it has been morally respectable. 
Now among the consequences of this change we 
might expect, if gain were the principal inducement 
to conquest, to see the aggressions of the Company 
cease. For not only had its agents from this time a 
character to lose, but it was also impossible for it to 
engage in purely wicked enterprises of conquest, 
since under the double government introduced by 
Pitt in 1784 it would have had to make the English 
Ministry its accomplice. Now the English Ministry 
may be supposed capable of crimes of ambition, but 
hardly of corrupt connivance at the sordid crimes of 
a trading-company. 

The truth is that from the time of Pitt's India 
Bill the supreme management of Indian affairs passed 
out of the hands of the Company. Thenceforward 
therefore an enterprise begun for purposes of trade 
fell under the management of men who had no 
concern with trade. Thenceforward two English 
statesmen divided between themselves the decision 
of the leading Indian questions, the President of the 
Board of Control and the Governor-General, and as 
long as the Company lasted, the leading position 
belonged rather to the Governor-General than to the 
President of the Board. Now it was under this 


system that the conquest of India for the most part 
was made, and it is certain that in this period 
the spirit of trade did not preside over our Indian 

With the appearance of Lord Wellesley as 
Governor-General in 1798 a new era begins in Indian 
policy. He first laid down the theory of intervention 
and annexation. His theory was afterwards adopted 
by Lord Hastings, who, by the way, before he be- 
came Governor-General had opposed it. Later again 
it was adopted with a kind of fanaticism by the last 
of the Governors-General who ruled in the time of the 
Company, Lord Dalhousie. 

Now this is the theory which led to the conquest 
of India. I have not left myself space in this lecture 
to examine it. I can only say that it does not aim at 
increase of trade, and that accordingly, instead of 
being favoured, it was usually opposed by the Com- 
pany. The Company resisted Lord Wellesley and 
censured Lord Hastings; if they were strangely 
compliant in dealing with Lord Dalhousie, it is to be 
remarked that in his time the directors had practically 
ceased to represent a trading Company. The theory 
was often applied in a most high-handed manner. 
Lord Dalhousie in particular stands out in history 
as a ruler of the type of Frederick the Great, and did 
deeds which are almost as difficult to justify as the 
seizure of Silesia or the Partition of Poland. But 
these acts, if crimes, are crimes of the same order 
as those of Frederick, crimes of ambition and of an 
ambition not by any means purely selfish. Neither 


he nor any of the great Governors-General since 
Warren Hastings can be suspected for a moment of 
sordid rapacity, and thus we see that our Indian 
Empire, though it began in trade and has a great 
trade for one of its results, yet was not really planned 
by tradesmen or for purposes of trade. 



FOR estimating the stability of an Empire there are 
certain plain tests which the political student ought 
to have at his fingers' ends. Of these some are 
applied to its internal organisation, and some to its 
external conditions, just as an insurance company in 
estimating the value of a life will take the opinion of 
the medical officer, who will feel the candidate's 
pulse and listen to his heart, but they will also 
inquire how and where the candidate lives, and 
whether his pursuits or habits expose him to any 
peculiar risks from without. Now I have partly 
applied the internal test. The internal test of the 
vitality of a state consists in ascertaining whether or 
no the Government rests upon a solid basis. For in 
every state besides the two things which are obvious 
to all, viz. the Government and the governed, there 
is a third thing, which is overlooked by most of 
us, and yet is usually not difficult to distinguish, I 
mean the power outside the Government which holds 
the Government up. This power may be slight or 


it may be substantial, and according to its solidity, 
or rather according to the ratio of its strength 
to that of the powers which tend to overthrow 
the Government, is that Government's chance of 
duration. Now I made some inquiry into the 
strength of the supports upon which the Government 
in India rests, but rather with a view of explaining 
how it stands now than whether it is likely to last 
a long time. Let us reconsider then with this 
other object the conclusions at which we arrived. 

We found that the Government did not rest, as 
in England, upon the consent of the people or of 
some native constituency, which has created the 
Government by a constitutional process. The Gov- 
ernment is in every respect, race, religion, habits, 
foreign to the people. There is only one body of 
persons of which we can positively affirm that 
without its support the Government could not stand ; 
this is the army. Of this army one part is English, 
and might be trusted to stand by the Government in 
all circumstances, but it is less than a third part of 
the whole. The other two-thirds are bound to us by 
nothing but their pay and the feeling of honour 
which impels a good soldier to be true to his flag. 
This is our visible support. Is there beyond it any 
moral support which, though invisible, may be 
reckoned upon as substantial? Here is a question 
which affords room for much difference of opinion. 
We are naturally inclined to presume that the bene- 
fits we have done the country by terminating the 
chronic anarchy which a century ago was tearing it 


in pieces, and by introducing so many evident im- 
provements, must have convinced all classes that our 
Government ought to be supported. But such a 
presumption is very rash. The notion of a public 
good, of a commonweal, to which all private interests 
ought to be subordinate, is one which we have no 
right to assume to be current in such a population 
as that of India. It seems indeed to presuppose 
precisely what we have found to be wanting that is, 
a moral unity or nationality in India. This being 
absent, we ought to presume that, instead of consid- 
ering what benefits our rule may confer upon the 
country in general, each class or interest inquires 
how it separately is affected by our ascendency, the 
Mussulman how his religion, the Brahmin how his 
ancient social supremacy, the native prince how his 
dignity, is affected by it. The great benefit which 
we have conferred upon the country at large in 
putting down general plunder and the omnipotence 
of a mercenary soldiery, is enjoyed perhaps mainly 
by a class which, though the most numerous, yet has 
little influence and a short memory, that class so 
characteristic of India, the small cultivators whose 
thoughts are absolutely wrapt up in the difficult 
problem of existing, whose utmost ambition extends 
only to keeping body and soul together. Those who 
used to be plundered, tortured, massacred in the 
chronic wars, ought no doubt to bless us; but the 
plunderers, the murderers are not likely to do so; 
and these, it may be, form the more influential class. 
It is certain in fact that all those who under the old 


rule of the Moguls used to be influential in India, 
those who used to monopolise official posts, those 
who belong to the race which used to rule and 
represent the religion which used to dominate, all 
those therefore whose opinion of us might be expected 
to be politically important, have suffered by our 
ascendency ; and that all our philanthropic attempts 
to raise the native races have had the effect of de- 
pressing them, and that to such an extent that vast 
numbers of them have been reduced to the greatest 
distress. The subject has been discussed in Dr. 
Hunter's book on the Mussulmans of India. In 
these circumstances it would be very rash to assume 
that any gratitude, which may have been aroused 
here and there by our administration, can be more 
than sufficient to counterbalance the discontent which 
we have excited among those whom we have ousted 
from authority and influence. 

It remains then that our power rests on an army, 
and on an army of which two-thirds are in relation 
to us mere mercenaries. This may seem a slight 
support, especially for so vast an authority, but we 
are to consider on the other hand what is the force 
of opposition which has to be overcome. And we 
find a population which by habit and long tradition 
is absolutely passive, which has been dragonnaded 
by foreign military Governments, until the very 
conception of resistance has been lost. We find also 
a population which has no sort of unity, in which 
nationalities lie in layers, one under another, and 
languages wholly unlike each other are brought 


together by composite dialects caused by fusion. In 
other words it is a population which for the present 
is wholly incapable of any common action. As I 
said, if it had a spark of that corporate life which 
distinguishes a nation, it could not be held in such a 
grasp as we lay upon it. But there is no immediate 
prospect of such a corporate life springing up in it. 
In the meanwhile our Government seems in ordinary 
times sufficiently supported. It is considerably 
stronger in many respects than it was at the time of 
the mutiny. The proportion of English to native 
troops in the army is larger, and many precautions 
suggested by the mutiny itself have been taken. A 
mutiny might happen again, but so long as it is a 
mere mutiny there seems no reason why it should be 
fatal to our power. The native troops want native 
leadership, and so long as they find no effective 
support in the people, so- long as their own objects 
continue to be, as they were in the last mutiny, 
wholly unpatriotic and selfish, so long as they can be 
disbanded and replaced by another native army, the 
position looked at purely from within seems tolerably 
secure. But this statement at the same time brings 
to light certain dangers. In the first place, what is 
said of the passive habits of the native population 
applies only to the Hindus. The Mussulmans have 
in great part different habits and different traditions. 
They do not look back upon centuries of submission, 
but upon a period not so long past when they were 
a ruling race. Secondly we are to remember that, 
much as unity may be wanting, one kind of unity, 



that of religion, is not wanting. There is the 
powerful and active unity of Islam ; there is the less 
active but still real unity of Brahminism. In Dr, 
Hunter's book on the Indian Mussulmans there is a 
chapter entitled "the chronic conspiracy within our 
territory," in which is described the religious agitation 
which, under the influence of Wahabite preachers, 
constantly rouses against our Government (according 
to Dr. Hunter, but others deny this) just that part 
of the population which has the proudest memories, 
and therefore the keenest sense of indignation against 
the race that has superseded them. Brahminism, 
though a tenacious, is a much less inspiring religion. 
Still we all remember the greased cartridges. The 
mutiny of 1857, though mainly military, yet had a 
religious beginning. It shows us what we might ex- 
pect if the vast Hindu population came to believe that 
their religion was attacked. And we are to bear in 
mind that the Hindu religion is not, like the Moham- 
medan, outside the region which science claims as its 
own. We have always declared that we held sacred 
the principle of religious toleration, and on that un- 
derstanding we are obeyed ; but what if the Hindu 
should come to regard the teaching of European 
science as being of itself an attack on his religion ? 

Great religious movements then seem less im- 
probable than a nationality-movement. On the other 
hand the religious forces, if they are livelier, 
neutralise each other more directly. Islam and 
Hinduism confront each other, the one stronger in 
faith, the other in numbers, and create a sort of 


equilibrium. Is it conceivable that we may some 
day find our Christianity a reconciling element 
between ourselves and these contending religions? 
We are to remember that, as Islam is the crudest 
expression of Semitic religion, Brahminism on the 
other hand is an expression of Aryan thought. 
Now among the religions of the world Christianity 
stands out as a product of the fusion of Semitic with 
Aryan ideas. It may be said that India and Europe 
in respect of religion have both the same elements, 
but that in India the elements have not blended, 
while in Europe they have united in Christianity. 
Judaism and classical Paganism were in Europe at 
the beginning of our era what Mohammedanism and 
Brahminism are now in India; but in India the 
elements have remained separate, and have only 
made occasional efforts to unite, as in the Sikh 
religion and in the religion of Akber. In Europe a 
great fusion took place by means of the Christian 
Church, which fusion has throughout modern history 
been growing more and more complete. 

Such then is the appearance which our Empire 
wears, when it is looked at by itself and with reference 
only to the internal forces which play upon it in 
India. But in order to form any estimate of its 
chance of stability it is equally important to consider 
what influences affect it from without. 

Few countries known to history have been so 
isolated as India. Between Nearchus, the Admiral of 
Alexander, and Vasco da Gama no European com- 
mander navigated the Indian Ocean, but the Arabs 


appear to have made naval descents on Sind as early 
as the time of the Caliph Omar. With this exception 
the only traceable foreign relation of India, except 
towards the North, has been with Java, and here the 
influence went forth from India, for we find in the 
Kawi language of Java the strongest traces both 
linguistic and literary of Hindu influence. What 
the sea is to the peninsula, that to the plain of the 
Ganges is the enormous barrier of the Himalaya. It 
has the effect of making India practically rather an 
island than a peninsula. On this side too Indian 
influence has gone forth into Central Asia, for it is to 
the north and the east that Buddhism went forth to 
make its extensive conquests. But on this side too 
there have been no political relations, no wars or 
invasions of which we have any authentic knowledge, 
except at a single point. 

We can easily imagine therefore that the isolation 
of India was for thousands of years complete, and 
indeed the natives told Alexander the Great, when he 
appeared among them, that they had never been 
invaded before. 

But this isolation came to an end at last, because 
after all India is not an island. It has one vulnerable 
point There is one point at which the mountain 
barrier can be penetrated. It can be invaded from 
Persia or from Central Asia through Afghanistan. 
Accordingly the whole history of the foreign relations 
of India up to the time of Vasco da Gama centres in 
Afghanistan. We may reckon perhaps eight great 
invasions by this route. 


The first is the most memorable of all, but no 
history of it remains. The Aryan race must have 
entered by this route, or perhaps we may say that 
the Aryan race must have come into existence here. 
The Afghans themselves are Aryan by language, and 
the correspondence in certain matters between the 
Zendavesta of Persia and the Vedas of India leads 
us to place the original Aryan home of the Sanscrit- 
speaking race somewhere on the frontier of India and 

The next invasion was that of Alexander the 
Great, famous enough in history, for it first threw 
open the door of India to the Western world. But 
it had no permanent consequences, since the Graeco- 
Bactrian kingdom, which for a time maintained a 
footing in India, came to an end in the second century 
before Christ. 

The third wants a history almost as much as the 
first. It is the so-called Scythian invasion, or series 
of invasions, of the first centuries after Christ. All- 
important as it is to students of Sanscrit literature, it 
need not detain us here. 

Then comes the invasion of Mahmoud of Ghazni 
(A.D. 1001). This is one of the most important, 
because it is at once the end both of the isolation and 
of the independence of India, and also what may be 
called the practical discovery of India for the rest 
of the world. Mahmoud is to India, as it were, 
Columbus and Cortez in one. Since his time foreign 
domination has never been interrupted, and the way 
to India through the Khyber Pass has been a beaten 


road trodden by many adventurers. In several 
respects too Mahmoud is a precursor of the Great 
Moguls. He is by birth a Turk, he has a petty 
throne in Afghanistan, and he is irresistibly impelled 
to the conquest of India by his Mussulman faith and 
by the near neighbourhood of the shrines of idolatry. 
In all these points he resembles Baber. 

The fifth great invasion was that of Tamerlane in 
1398. It was purely destructive, but has an import- 
ance of its own, which however we shall understand 
better when we are in a condition to compare it with 
the seventh and eighth invasions. 

Then comes the invasion of Baber in 1524 and the 
establishment of the Mogul Empire. What Mahmoud 
had begun he and his successors carried out with more 
continuousness. Their empire was similar to the 
Mussulman Empires which had preceded it, but 
firmer and more consolidated. 

The seventh and eighth are desolating incursions 
like that of Tamerlane. The one was undertaken by 
Nadir Shah, the tyrant who seized the throne of 
Persia on the fall of the Sofi dynasty ; it took place 
in 1739, when the Mogul Empire was already in full 
decline. The other took place in 1760 ; the author 
of it was Ahmed Shah Abdali, head of an Empire of 
Duranis, whose headquarters were in Afghanistan. 

Such are the principal invasions which India has 
suffered. A review of them shows that, though 
India has but this one point at which she is vulner- 
able by land, yet at this point she is very vulnerable 
indeed. For a long time indeed it seems that the 


way to invade her was not discovered, but at least 
from the time of Mahmoud of Ghazni she has become 
peculiarly liable to invasion, and her history has 
been completely determined by it. For she has 
shown extremely little power of resistance. The 
history of India up to and outside of the English 
conquest may be thus briefly summed up. It consists 
in the first place of two great Mussulman conquests 
and of a great Hindu reaction against the Mussulman 
power, which took shape in the Mahratta confederacy ; 
the two conquests were both made from Afghanistan ; 
in the second place, of the destruction of the two 
great Mohammedan Powers in succession and the 
decisive humiliation of the Mahratta Power; this 
was accomplished by three other invasions from 
Afghanistan. That you may understand how this is 
so I will ask you first to examine the fall of the 
Mogul Empire that is, the second of the great 
Mussulman Powers. The ultimate cause of its fall 
was perhaps the unwise attempt of Aurungzebe to 
extend it over the Deccan ; accordingly its decline 
began visibly at Aurungzebe's death. But the 
decisive blow which was mortal to it, which converted 
it from a sick man to a dying man, was the devastat- 
ing invasion of Nadir Shah, who came down through 
Afghanistan in 1739. He sacked Delhi, and so 
completely plundered the treasury that the Mogul 
Government was never able to raise its head again. 
In precisely the same way the Mahratta Power, just 
at the moment when it seemed on the point of 
uniting all India, was broken by the descent of 


Ahmed Shah Abdali from Afghanistan and by the 
fatal battle of Paniput (in which 200,000 men are 
said to have fallen) in the year 1761 that is, when 
the English were already making themselves masters 
of Bengal. And it appears to me that, as these two 
invasions were fatal to the Moguls and the Mahrattas, 
so the earlier invasion of Tamerlane at the end of the 
fourteenth century crushed the earlier Mussulman 
Power, which just before under Mohammed Toghlak 
had reached its greatest extension. 

But now, as Mahmoud of Ghazni threw open 
India to invasion from the north, Vasco da Gama 
opened it to maritime invasion from Europe. This 
was, though it did not seem so at the time, the 
greater achievement of the two. For Mahmoud only 
established a connection between India and the 
Mussulman world of Western and Central Asia, but 
Vasco da Gama for the first time since Alexander the 
Great connected it with Europe, and this time it was 
Europe christianised and civilised. This could not 
be remarked at the time because, while Mahmoud 
came as a mighty conqueror, Vasco da Gama was but a 
humble navigator. His discovery for a very long time 
led to no political results. There followed a century 
which I called the Spanish-Portuguese age of colonial 
history. Almost throughout the sixteenth century 
the whole newly- discovered oceanic world was in the 
hands of two nations, and the Asiatic half of it 
almost exclusively in the hands of the Portuguese. 
But in the last years of that century the Dutch 
succeeded in taking their place. As to the English, 


when the seventeenth century opened, they were still 
but timid interlopers encroaching a little in India 
upon the monopoly of the Dutch. 

I explained above how at the end of the seven- 
teenth century England and France had begun to 
take in the colonial world the position which had 
belonged in the sixteenth century to Spain and 
Portugal, and how the whole eighteenth century is 
filled with the struggle of these two nations for 
supremacy in it. In 1748 this struggle breaks out 
violently in India, and it has already become clear to 
Dupleix that the struggle is political, not merely 
commercial, and that the prize is nothing less than an 
Indian Empire. Here then is a momentous turning 
point in the history of Indian foreign relations. 
Hitherto she had been connected with the outer 
world only through Afghanistan ; henceforth she is 
to be connected with it also by the sea. 

This new connection, once established, for a time 
eclipses the old, especially in the eyes of the English 
conquerors themselves. As I have said before, the 
enemy whom the English for a long time continued 
to dread most in India was their earliest enemy, 
France. Invasions from Afghanistan had not indeed 
ceased. Nadir Shah's invasion took place only nine 
years before that year 1748, from which we date the 
rise of the British Empire. The invasion of Ahmed 
Shah Abdali took place thirteen years later. But 
these occurrences did not much attract the attention 
of the English. For we are to bear in mind that, 
though they had begun to conquer, they did not yet 


dream how far their conquests would carry them. 
Because they were now firmly planted as territorial 
rulers in the neighbourhood of Fort St. George and 
Fort William, they did not as a matter of course 
think themselves responsible for all India, or study 
comprehensively the relations of the country con- 
sidered as a whole to the outer world. The affairs of 
Afghanistan or the Punjab seemed almost as much 
beyond their horizon as those of the Turkish Empire. 
But towards the end of the eighteenth century a 
change took place in the view of the English. 
Hitherto they had looked most anxiously towards 
Madras and the Deccan. Their main fear was lest 
the French might make some new alliance with one 
of the native princes of the South, might help him 
with arms and officers or with a fleet, while he 
descended upon Madras. This was what actually 
took place in that war with France which grew out 
of the American Eevolution, and never perhaps were 
we so hard pressed in India. Hyder All descended 
upon the Carnatic to the gates of Madras, and from 
the sea the greatest of all French sailors, the Bailli 
de Suffren, co-operated with him. But fifteen years 
later the whole face of our foreign relations in 
India was changed by Bonaparte's Egyptian expedi- 
tion. French policy here took a new direction. It 
did not indeed break off from its old connections in 
the Deccan. Tippoo was expected to be as useful to 
the Directory as his father Hyder had been to Louis 
XVL But at the same time Bonaparte's occupation 
of Egypt and his campaign in Syria, movements 


which were avowedly aimed at England, seemed to 
show that he had conceived the design of attacking 
our power in India from the north. Then for the 
first time we remembered Nadir Shah and Ahmed 
Shah Abdali ; then for the first time we began to 
look anxiously, as we have so often looked since, 
towards the Khyber Pass, towards Zemaun Shah, who 
at the end of the eighteenth century sat in the seat 
of Ahmed Shah at Cabul, and towards the Court of 

This then is the second great phase of the foreign 
policy of our Indian Empire. It is marked by the 
celebrated mission of Malcolm (afterward Sir John) 
to the Persian Court in 1800. Never before had we 
had occasion to study what I may call the balance of 
Asia, or to inquire quid Tiridaten terreat, what thoughts 
agitate the mind of the Persian king. But observe it 
is not the secret influence of Russia that is feared, 
but that of France. I said before that perhaps the 
Duke of Wellington considered himself to be fight- 
ing the French at Assaye, not less than at Waterloo. 
In like manner you will find that Malcolm in his 
Persian negotiations has Napoleon and the power of 
France, not at all that of Eussia, in his mind. 

But in this second phase, though we have begun 
to look towards Afghanistan, we have not ceased to 
be afraid, as in the first phase, of French influence in 
the South. The life of this same Sir John Malcolm 
illustrates this. He was selected for the Persian 
mission on account of the distinction he had won just 
before in the war against Tippoo Sultan of Mysore. 


Now this is a war against the French almost as truly 
as that earlier war in which Olive first distinguished 
himself. Tippoo himself was understood to be hand- 
and-glove with the Directory : Bonaparte is his ally, 
as Suftren had been his father's. The French called 
him Citoyen Tipou. And what is the Nizam doing 1 
It was with the Government of the Nizam at Hydera- 
bad that the French had had their earliest connection 
half a century before. They knew even better than 
the English how to conquer India, and that the secret 
lay in training sepoys and putting them under 
European leadership. We find that now in 1798 
there is in the Hyderabad country a force of 14,000 
men, who are disciplined and commanded by French 
officers. A certain Raymond is in command of them, 
and we read in Kaye's Life of Malcolm that " assign- 
ments of territory had been made by the Nizam for 
the pay of these troops. Foundries were established 
under competent. European superintendence. Guns 
were cast. Muskets were manufactured. Admirably 
equipped and disciplined, Raymond's levies went out 
to battle with the colours of Revolutionary France 
floating above them and the cap of liberty engraved 
on their buttons." Now so long as our nominal 
ally the Nizam supported such a force and Tippoo 
was avowedly in concert with France, our position in 
the Deccan was not so materially changed from what 
it had been when our Indian quarrel with France 
first began. It was still possible that the tables 
might be turned on the English in 1798 by Ray- 
mond's force, as they had been turned on the French 


before by Olive at Arcot. At this juncture the 
young Malcolm was sent to Hyderabad, and he 
succeeded in disbanding this French force, or, as he 
himself calls it, "expelling this nest of democrats." 

Thus we have two phases of the foreign policy of 
British India. At first it has but one enemy outside 
India, namely France, and it expects the attack of 
this enemy only in one quarter, namely the Deccan. 
In the second phase it has still the same enemy, who 
works in the same way, but his power has become 
far wider. He has formed, or is supposed to have 
formed, relations with other Asiatic Powers outside 
India. These Powers are the Afghans and the 
Persians, and after the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807 there 
is added to these another Power, European indeed 
but beginning already to overhang Asia, a Power 
which is now named for the first time in the history 
of British India, Russia. 

This second phase is brought to an end by the fall 
of Napoleon. With him fell completely, though it 
would be rash to say finally, the influence of France 
upon India. Her exclusion was secured by the 
capture of the Mauritius in 1810 and by the reten- 
tion of the island at the general peace. 

There followed a pause in our foreign affairs. 
Our Empire had no important foreign relations for 
about twenty years. And then began a new phase. 
Another European Power takes the place of France 
as our rival in Asia. This Power is Russia. 

In the whole history of Greater Britain from its 
commencement at the end of Elizabeth's reign we 


may perhaps distinguish three great periods. There 
is first the seventeenth century, in which it rises 
gradually from a humble position to pre-eminence 
among colonial Empires. There is next that duel 
with France both in America and Asia, of which I 
have said so much. This occupies the eighteenth 
century. But this too passed, and we have entered 
upon a third phase, which, according to the fashion 
of historical development, began to form itself long 
before the second phase was over. In this third 
phase the English world -empire has two gigantic 
neighbours in the West and in the East. In the 
West she has the United States and in the East 
Russia for a neighbour. 

These are the two States which I have cited as 
examples of the modern tendency towards enormous 
political aggregations, such as would have been 
impossible but for the modern inventions which 
diminish the difficulties caused by time and space. 
Both are continuous land-powers. Between them, 
equally vast but not continuous, with the ocean flow- 
ing through it in every direction, lies, like a world- 
Venice, with the sea for streets, Greater Britain. 

This third phase may in a sense be said to have 
begun with the American Eevolution, but it is more 
just to consider it as dating only from about the 
thirties of the present century. For the great destiny 
that was reserved for the United States did not 
become manifest till long after its independence was 
established. That great emigration from Europe 
which is the cause of its rapid progress, did not 



begin till after the peace of 1816, and in the twenties 
again its importance in the world was vastly increased 
by the South American Kevolution and the establish- 
ment of republican government in Spanish America, 
an event which placed the United States in a lofty 
position of primacy on the American Continent 
Now it was about the same time that the great 
extension of Russia in the East took place. The 
moment when we began to feel keenly the rivalry of 
Russia in the East is very plainly marked on the 
history of British India. It was in 1830 that Russia 
in her progress touched the Jaxartes, and soon after 
she reduced Persia to a condition which we might 
take to be one of practical dependence. When there- 
fore in 1834, and again in 1837, Mohammed Shah of 
Persia led an army into Afghanistan, we believed we 
saw the hand of Russia, as thirty years before we 
had seen the hand of Napoleon when any movement 
took place in the same region. At this moment 
begins a new and stormy period in our Indian history, 
which may be said to extend to the mutiny that is, 
over twenty years. This period witnessed a series of 
wars, in the course of which we conquered the whole 
north-west, annexed the Punjab, Sind and Oude, and 
at last aroused a disquiet in the minds of our Hindu 
subjects which issued in the mutiny. These disturb- 
ances seem traceable in the main to the alarm caused 
by Russia. For it was this alarm which led to the 
disastrous expedition into Afghanistan, and it was 
in the effort to restore our damaged reputation that 
the conquest of Sind was made, and it seems likely 


also that if these disturbances in the north-west had 
not thus been commenced, the Sikh wars might never 
have happened. 

Lord Auckland, we are now very sure, did not 
take the right way in 1838 to meet the danger he 
foresaw. Perhaps he exaggerated the danger ; per- 
haps even now, after forty years more have passed 
and the advance of Russia in Central Asia during 
that time has been beyond all anticipation, we still 
exaggerate the danger. But the historical sketch of 
the foreign relations of India which I have given in 
this lecture shows that there exists a prima fade case 
for alarm, which cannot but produce a prodigious 
effect. That case rests upon the simple fact that 
our three predecessors in the Empire of India, the 
Mahrattas in 1761, the Moguls in 1738, the older 
Mussulman Empire in 1398, all alike received a 
mortal blow from a Power which suddenly invaded 
India through Afghanistan, and that, on two other 
occasions quite distinct from these, invaders from 
Afghanistan, viz. Mahmoud of Ghazni and Baber, 
have founded Empires in India. 

I call this a prima facie case for alarm. It is 
nothing more. Such reasonings per envmerationem 
simplicem can establish only that there is ground for 
instituting an examination, though unfortunately 
when history is brought to bear at all upon politics, 
which happens but rarely, it is commonly done in 
this random way. We cannot argue from the Moguls 
and Nadir Shah to the English and Russia. It would 
be easy perhaps to show that the Mogul Empire neve* 


had a solidity at all approaching that of the English 
Empire, and we might point out also that when 
Nadir Shah came to Delhi the Empire had already 
been in manifest decay for thirty years. With re- 
spect to Russia, on the other hand, it would be easy 
to show that it is a Power wholly different in kind 
from those Powers, generally more or less Tartar, 
which have invaded India, a Power certainly far 
greater and more solid than most of them, but still 
so different that we cannot assume it to be equally 
capable of invasion and conquest at a prodigious 
distance. In short, history proves nothing more than 
that the way to India lies through Afghanistan. 
Whether a Power such as Russia can successfully 
attack by this route a Power such as British India, 
is a question upon which historical precedents throw 
no light whatever. It can be answered only by 
analysing and estimating the military resources, both 
moral and material, of the two Powers. 

But it may be asked, How is it possible to question 
Russia's power or her will to make distant conquests 1 
Has she not conquered in the North the whole breadth 
of Asia, and in the centre has she not penetrated 
to Samarcand and Khokand? What Power ever 
equalled her in successful aggression 1 But we must 
pronounce no man happy, Solon said, till we have 
seen his end. Can such a career continue indefinitely, 
when Russia shall have been thoroughly Europeanised 
at home? As soon as her political awakening is 
complete, must not a transformation of her foreign 
policy take place 1 


On the other hand it may be said, Who can ques- 
tion the ability of England to contend with Russia t 
But as I have argued, England is very distinct from 
British India. Eussia may be rich enough to conquer 
vast regions at a distance of thousands of miles, but 
England is not. British India must in the main 
defend herself that is, she, can have English troops, 
but she must pay for them. 

We must ask then, What is the inherent strength 
of British India? And thus its stability depends 
upon its being strong enough to withstand those in- 
ternal dangers I spoke of, complicated with the ex- 
ternal danger from Afghanistan. We were able to 
put down the mutiny, and perhaps we could defeat 
a Eussian army of invasion. But what if a mutiny 
and a Eussian invasion came together ? What if our 
native army, in some fit of disaffection or in some 
vague hope of profiting by a change, should prefer 
the Eussian service to the English? This is the 
danger which since about 1830 has been foreseen. 
The Government can hold its own within and also 
without. But it has little strength to spare, and 
must guard itself anxiously against any coalition 
between its domestic and its foreign enemies. 

Other combinations may be imagined which would 
be extremely dangerous. Thus it is sometimes 
argued that sooner or later we must lose India, 
because sooner or later some war in Europe will force 
us to withdraw our English troops. It is true that 
without those troops we cannot keep India, and yet 
some great sudden attack upon ourselves, such as an 


invasion of England, might compel us to send for 
them. It is however also true that such a danger is 
not at present to be foreseen, for what enemy could 
invade us but France ? Now sixty-eight years have 
passed since we last fought the French; our old 
hostility to France has become a matter of ancient 
history; and the aggressive power of France has 
much declined. 

But the subject is too large for the space I am able 
to give to it, and I must ask you to be content with 
this imperfect outline. 



WE have now dwelt for a long time on that extra- 
ordinary expansion which has had the effect that, 
considered as a state, England has left Europe 
altogether behind it and become a world-state, while, 
considered purely as a nation that is, as speaking a 
certain language she has furnished out two world- 
states, which vie with each other in vigour, influence, 
and rapidity of growth. We have inquired into the 
causes, traced the process, and considered some of 
the results of this expansion. It remains then in 
this closing lecture to gather up the impressions we 
have received into a general conclusion. 

There are two schools of opinion among us with 

I respect to our Empire, of which schools the one may 

I be called the bombastic and the other the pessimistic. 

The one is lost in wonder and ecstasy at its immense 

dimensions, and at the energy and heroism which 

presumably have gone to the making of it; this 

school therefore advocates the maintenance of it as a 


point of honour or sentiment. The other is in the 
opposite extreme, regards it as founded in aggression 
and rapacity, as useless and burdensome, a kind of 
excrescence upon England, as depriving us of the 
advantages of our insularity and exposing us to wars 
and quarrels in every part of the globe ; this school 
therefore advocates a policy which may lead at the 
earliest possible opportunity to the abandonment of 
it. Let us consider then how our studies, now that 
they are concluded, have led us to regard these two 
opposite opinions. 

We have been led to take a much more sober view 
of the Empire than would satisfy the bombastic 
school. At the outset we are not much impressed 
with its vast extent, because we know no reason in 
the nature of things why a state should be any the 
better for being large, and because throughout the 
greater part of history very large states have usually 
been states of a low type. Nor again can we imagine 
why it should be our duty to maintain our Empire 
for an indefinite time simply out of respect for the 
heroism of those who won it for us, or because the 
abandonment of it might seem to betray a want of 
spirit. All political unions exist for the good of their 
members, and should be just as large, and no larger, 
as they can be without ceasing to be beneficial. It 
would seem to us insane that if the connection with 
the colonies or with India hampered both parties, if 
it did harm rather than good, England should resolve 
to maintain it to her own detriment and to that of 
her dependencies. We find too a confusion of ideas 


hidden under much of the bombastic language of this 
school, for they seem to conceive of the dependencies 
of England as of so much property belonging to her, 
as if the Queen were like some Sesostris or Solomon 
of the ancient world, to whom " Tarshish and the 
isles brought presents, Arabia and Sheba offered 
gifts " ; whereas the connection is really not of this 
kind at all, and England is not, directly at least, any 
the richer for it And further we have ventured to 
doubt that the vastness of this Empire necessarily 
proves some invincible heroism or supernatural genius 
for government in our nation. Undoubtedly some 
facts may be adduced to show natural aptitude for 
colonisation and a faculty of leadership in our race. 
A good number of Englishmen may be cited who 
have exerted an almost magical ascendency over the 
minds of the native races of India ; and in Canada 
again, where the English settlers have competed 
directly with the French, they have shown a marked 
superiority in enterprise and energy. But though 
there is much to admire in the history of Greater 
Britain, yet the pre-eminence of England in the New 
World has certainly not been won by sheer natural 
superiority. In the heroic age of maritime discovery 
we did not greatly shine. We did not show the 
genius of the Portuguese, and we did not produce a 
Columbus or a Magelhaen. When I examined the 
causes which enabled us after two centuries to surpass 
other nations in colonisation, I found that we had a 
broader basis and a securer position at home than 
Portugal and Holland, and that we were less involved 


in great European enterprises than France and Spain. 
In like manner when I inquired how we could con- 
quer, and that with little trouble, the vast country of 
India, I found that after all we did it by means 
mainly of Indian troops, to whom we imparted a 
skill which was not so much English as European, 
that the French showed us the way, and -that the 
condition of the country was such as to render it 
peculiarly open to conquest. 

Thus I admitted very much of what is urged 
by the pessimists against the bombastic school. I 
endeavoured to judge the Empire by its own intrinsic 
merits, and to see it as it is, not concealing the incon- 
veniences which may attend such a vast expansion, or 
the dangers to which it may expose us, nor finding 
any compensation for these in the notion that there 
is something intrinsically glorious in an Empire " upon 
which the sun never sets," or, to use another equally 
brilliant expression, an Empire " whose morning 
drum-beat, following the sun and keeping company 
with the hours, encircles the globe with an unbroken 
chain of martial airs." But though there is little that 
is glorious in most of the great Empires mentioned 
in history, since they have usually been created by 
force and have remained at a low level of political 
life, we observed that Greater Britain is not in the j 
ordinary sense an Empire at all. Looking at the \ 
colonial part of it alone, we see a natural growth, a 
mere normal extension of the English race into other 
lands, which for the most part were so thinly peopled 
that our settlers took possession of them without 


conquest. If there is nothing highly glorious in such 
an expansion, there is at the same time nothing forced 
or unnatural about it. It creates not properly an 
Empire, but only a very large state. So far as the 
expansion itself is concerned, no one does or can 
regard it but with pleasure. For a nation to have an 
outlet for its superfluous population is one of the 
greatest blessings. Population unfortunately does 
not adapt itself to space ; on the contrary, the larger 
it is the larger is its yearly increment. Now that 
Great Britain is already full it becomes fuller with 
increased speed ; it gains a million every three years. 
Probably emigration ought to proceed at a far greater 
rate than it does, and assuredly the greatest evils 
would arise if it were checked. But should there be 
an expansion of the State as well as of the nation ? 
" No," say the pessimists, " or only till the colony is 
grown-up and ready for independence." When a 
metaphor comes to be regarded as an argument, what 
an irresistible argument it always seems ! I have 
suggested that in the modern world distance has very 
much lost its effect, and that there are signs of a time 
when states will be vaster than they have hitherto 
been. In ancient times emigrants from Greece to 
Sicily took up their independence at once, and in 
those parts there were almost as many states as cities, 
In the eighteenth century Burke thought a federation 
quite impossible across the Atlantic Ocean. In such 
times the metaphor of the grown-up son might well 
harden into a convincing demonstration. But since 
Burke's time the Atlantic Ocean has shrunk till it 


seems scarcely broader than the sea between Greece 
and Sicily. Why then do we not drop the metaphor 1 
I have urged that we are unconsciously influenced by 
a historic parallel which when examined turns out to 
be inapplicable. As indeed it is true generally that 
one urgent reason why politicians should study history 
is that they may guard themselves against the false 
historical analogies which continually mislead those 
who do not study history ! These views are founded 
on the American Revolution, and yet the American 
Revolution arose out of circumstances and out of a 
condition of the world which has long since passed 
away. England was then an agricultural country by 
no means thickly peopled ; America was full of 
religious refugees animated by ideas which in England 
had lately passed out of fashion ; there was scarcely 
any flux and reflux of population between the two 
countries, and the ocean divided them with a gulf 
which seemed as unbridgeable as that moral gulf 
which separates an Englishman from a Frenchman. 
Even then the separation was not effected without a 
great wrench. It is true that both countries have 
prospered since, nevertheless they have had a second 
war and may have a third, and it is wholly an illusion 
to suppose that their prosperity has been caused or 
promoted by their separation. At any rate all the 
conditions of the world are altered now. The great 
causes of division, oceans and religious disabilities, 
have ceased to operate. Vast uniting forces have 
begun to work, trade and emigration. Meanwhile 
the natural ties which unite Englishmen resume their 


influence as soon as the counteracting pressure is 
removed I mean the ties of nationality, language, and 
religion. The mother-country having once for all 
ceased to be a stepmother, and to make unjust 
claims and impose annoying restrictions, and since 
she wants her colonies as an outlet both for popula- 
tion and trade, and since on the other hand the 
colonies must feel that there is risk, not to say also 
intellectual impoverishment, in independence, since 
finally intercourse is ever increasing and no alienating 
force is at work to counteract it, but the discords 
created by the old system pass more and more into 
oblivion, it seems possible that our colonial Empire 
i so-called may more and more deserve to be called 
Greater Britain, and that the tie may become stronger 
and stronger. Then the seas which divide us might 
be forgotten, and that ancient preconception, which 
leads us always to think of ourselves as belonging to 
a single island, might be rooted out of our minds. If 
in this way we moved sensibly nearer in our thoughts 
and feelings to the colonies, and accustomed ourselves 
to think of emigrants as not in any way lost to 
England by settling in the colonies, the result might 
be, first that emigration on a vast scale might become 
our remedy for pauperism, and secondly that some 
organisation might gradually be arrived at which 
might make the whole force of the Empire available 
in time of war. 

In taking this view I have borne in mind the 
example of the United States. It is curious that the 
pessimists among ourselves should generally have 


been admirers of the United States, and yet there we 
have the most striking example of confident and 
successful expansion. Those colonies which, when 
they parted from us, did but fringe the Atlantic 
sea-board, and had but lately begun to push their 
settlements into the valley of the Ohio, how steadily, 
how boundlessly, and with what steadfast self-reliance 
have they advanced since ! They have covered with 
their States or Territories, first the mighty Mississippi 
valley, next the Eocky Mountains, and lastly the 
Pacific coast. They have made no difficulty of 
absorbing all this territory; it has not shaken their 
political system. And yet they have never said, as 
among us even those who are not pessimists say of 
the colonies, that if they wish to secede, of course 
they can do so. On the contrary they have firmly 
denied this right, and to maintain the unity of their 
vast state have sacrificed blood and treasure in un- 
exampled profusion. They firmly refused to allow 
their Union to be broken up, or to listen to the 
argument that a state is none the better for being 
very large. 

Perhaps we are hardly alive to the vast results 
which are flowing in politics from modern mechanism. 
Throughout the greater part of human history the 
process of state-building has been governed by strict 
conditions of space. For a long time no high organ- 
isation was possible except in very small states. In 
antiquity the good states were usually cities, and 
Rome herself when she became an Empire was obliged 
to adopt a lower organisation. In medieval Europe, 


states sprang up which were on a larger scale than 
those of antiquity, but for a long time these too were 
lower organisms and looked up to Athens and Eome 
with reverence as to the homes of political greatness. 
But through the invention of the representative 
system these states have risen to a higher level. We 
now see states with vivid political consciousness on 
territories of two hundred thousand square miles and 
in populations of thirty millions. A further advance 
is now being made. The federal system has been 
added to the representative system, and at the same 
time steam and electricity have been introduced. 
From these improvements has resulted the possibility 
of highly organised states on a yet larger scale. Thus 
Eussia in Europe has already a population of near 
eighty millions on a territory of more than two 
millions of square miles, and the United States 
will have by the end of the century a population as 
large upon a territory of four millions of square miles. 
We cannot, it is true, yet speak of Eussia as having a 
high type of organisation ; she has her trials and her 
transformation to come; but the Union has shown 
herself able to combine free institutions in the fullest 
degree with boundless expansion. 

Now if it offends us to hear our Empire described 
in the language of Oriental bombast, we need not 
conclude that the Empire itself is in fault, for it is 
open to us to think that it has been wrongly classified. 
Instead of comparing it to that which it resembles in 
no degree, some Turkish or Persian congeries of 
nations forced together by a conquering horde, let us 


compare it to the United States, and we shall see at 
once that, so far from being of an obsolete type, it is 
precisely the sort of union which the conditions of 
the time most naturally call into existence. 

Lastly, let us observe that the question, whether 
large states or small states are best, is not one which 
can be answered or ought to be discussed absolutely. 
We often hear abstract panegyrics upon the happiness 
of small states. But observe that a small state 
among small states is one thing, and a small state 
among large states quite another. Nothing is more 
delightful than to read of the bright days of Athens 
and Florence, but those bright days lasted only so 
long as the states with which Athens and Florence 
had to do were states on a similar scale of magnitude. 
Both states sank at once as soon as large country- 
states of consolidated strength grew up in their 
neighbourhood. The lustre of Athens grew pale as 
soon as Macedonia rose, and Charles V. speedily 
brought to an end the great days of Florence. Now 
if it be true that a larger type of state than any 
hitherto known is springing up in the world, is not 
this a serious consideration for those states which 
rise only to the old level of magnitude? Russia 
already presses somewhat heavily on Central Europe ; 
what will she do when with her vast territory and 
population she equals Germany in intelligence and 
organisation, when all her railways are made, her 
people educated, and her government settled on a 
solid basis 1 and let us remember that if we allow 
her half a century to make so much progress her 


population will at the end of that time be not eighty 
but nearly a hundred and sixty millions. At that 
time which many here present may live to see, 
Russia and the United States will surpass in power 
the states now called great as much as the great 
country-states of the sixteenth century surpassed 
Florence. Is not this a serious consideration, and is 
it not especially so for a state like England, which 
has at the present moment the choice in its hands 
between two courses of action, the one of which 
may set it in that future age on a level with the 
greatest of these great states of the future, while 
the other will reduce it to the level of a purely 
European Power looking back, as Spain does now, to 
the great days when she pretended to be a world- 

But what I have been saying does not apply to 
India. If England and her colonies taken together 
make, properly speaking, not an Empire but only a 
very large state, this is because the population is 
English throughout and the institutions are of the 
same kind. In India the population is wholly foreign, 
and the institutions wholly unlike our own. India 
is really an Empire and an Oriental Empire. It is in 
relation to India especially that the language of the 
bombastic school offends us, and that we are struck 
by the misconception which is betrayed in their 
high-flown imagery borrowed from the ancient world. 
And here we cannot, on looking more closely into 
the phenomenon, reconcile ourselves to it by dis- 
covering that, though it has not the romantic great- 


ness attributed to it, yet it has a solid value and 
utility to us which is of another kind altogether. 

Gradually and in recent times a great trade 
between India and England has sprung up, but even 
this, as I pointed out, was hardly contemplated by 
those who had the principal share in founding the 
Indian Empire. And it is difficult to see what other 
great advantages we reap from it, so that we ask 
ourselves in some perplexity, what made us take the 
trouble of acquiring it. Historically the answer is, 
that in our great colonial struggle with France we 
were led into wars which left us in possession of 
territories in the neighbourhood of Calcutta and 
Madras, that we then proceeded to organise our 
government of them, that we successfully purged 
away the corruption which had sprung up in the first 
period of conquest, and created an administration 
that was pure and under the direct control of the 
Government at home; but that afterwards there 
arose a line of Governors-General who on high 
grounds of statesmanship were favourable to annexa- 
tion. The policy now adopted was not sordid, but it 
may have been ambitious and unscrupulous. If we 
are to think, as Mr. Torrens 1 imagines, that Pitt and 
Lord Wellesley in secret deliberation determined to 
replace the American colonies by an Eastern Empire, 
such an idea, according to the view taken in these 
lectures, belongs to an unsound and chimerical system 
of politics. But ostensibly the policy was justified 
by arguments chiefly of a philanthropic kind, and 

1 The Marquis Wettedey, by W. M. Torrens, M.P., vol. i. p. 128. 


they were arguments of such strength that it was 
difficult to resist them. It was not to be denied 
that a most deplorable anarchy reigned in India. 
Here and there a tyranny arose which had some 
degree of stability, though it was almost always a 
military government of the lowest type. But over 
the greater part of India there prevailed a system 
which it would be appropriate to call, not govern- 
ment of a low type, but robbery of a high type. 
Occasionally in Europe, as in some Highland clans 
or among the Western buccaneers, or those ancient 
pirates of the Mediterranean whom Pompey was 
commissioned to suppress, robber-bands have had 
almost the magnitude and organisation of states, but 
they never have reached the scale of the robber-states 
of India. The Mahrattas levied their chout, a sort of 
blackmail, all over India, and at a later time the 
Pindarrees surpassed the Mahrattas in cruelty. Now 
this anarchy arose directly out of the decline of the 
authority of the Great Mogul. It was possible of 
course for the English to wash their hands of all this, 
to defend their own territories, and let the chaos 
welter as it would outside their frontier. But to 
Governors-General on the spot such a course might 
easily seem not just but simply cruel. Aggrandise- 
ment might present itself in the light of a simple 
duty, when it seemed that by extending our Empire 
the reign of robbery and murder might be brought to 
an end in a moment, and that of law commence. 1 

1 " It is a proud phrase to use, but it is a true one, that we have 
bestowed blessings upon millions . . . The ploughman is again in 


Accordingly Lord Wellesley laid it down that there 
had always been a paramount Power in India, that 
such a paramount Power was necessary to the 
country, and that it became the duty of the Company, 
now that the power of the Mogul had come to an 
end, to save India by assuming his function. 

And thus we founded our Empire, partly it may 
be out of an empty ambition of conquest and partly 
out of a philanthropic desire to put an end to 
enormous evils. But, whatever our motives might 
be, we incurred vast responsibilities, which were 
compensated by no advantages. We have now 
acquired a great Indian trade, but even this we 
purchase at the expense of a perpetual dread oi 
Russia, and of all movements in the Mussulman 
world, and of all changes in Egypt. Thus a review 
of the history of British India leaves on the mind an 
impression quite different from that which our 
Colonial Empire produces. The latter has grown up 
naturally, out of the operation of the plainest causes ; 
the former seems to have sprung from a romantic 
adventure; it is highly interesting, striking, and 
curious, but difficult to understand or to form an 
opinion about We may hope that it will lead to 
good, but hitherto we have not ourselves reaped 
directly much good from it. 

I have shown you however that, though it may be 
called an Oriental Empire, it is much less dangerous 

every quarter turning up a soil which had for many seasons never 
been stirred except by the hoofs of predatory cavalry." Lord 
Hastings, February 1819. 



to us than that description might seem to imply. It 
is not an Empire attached to England in the same 
way as the Roman Empire was attached to Rome ; it 
will not drag us down, or infect us at home with 
Oriental notions or methods of government. Nor is 
it an Empire which costs us money or hampers our 
finances. It is self-supporting, and is held at arm's 
length in such a way that our destiny is not very 
closely entangled with its own. 

Next I have led you to consider what may be the 
effect of our Indian Empire upon India itself. We 
perhaps have not gained much from it; but has 
India gained? On this question I have desired to 
speak with great diffidence. I have asserted con- 
fidently only thus much, that no greater experiment 
has ever been tried on the globe, and that the effects 
of it will be comparable to the effect of the Roman 
Empire upon the nations of Europe nay, probably 
they will be much greater. This means no doubt 
that vast benefits will be done to India, but it does 
not necessarily mean that great mischiefs may not 
also be done. Nay, if you ask on which side the 
balance will incline, and whether, if we succeed in 
bringing India into the full current of European 
civilisation, we shall not evidently be rendering her 
the greatest possible service, I should only answer, 
"I hope so; I trust so." In the academic study of 
these vast questions we should take care to avoid the 
optimistic commonplaces of the newspaper. Our 
Western civilisation is perhaps not absolutely the 
glorious thing we like to imagine it. Those who 


watch India most impartially see that a vast trans- 
formation goes on there, but sometimes it produces 
a painful impression upon them; they see much 
destroyed, bad things and good things together; 
sometimes they doubt whether they see many good 
things called into existence. But they see one 
enormous improvement, under which we may fairly 
hope that all other improvements are potentially 
included ; they see anarchy and plunder brought to 
an end and something like the vmmensa majestas 
Eomanae pacts established among two hundred and 
fifty millions of human beings. 

Another thing almost all observers see, and that 
is that the experiment must go forward, and that we 
cannot leave it unfinished if we would. For here too 
the great uniting forces of the age are at work; 
England and India are drawn every year for good or 
for evil more closely together. Not indeed that dis- 
uniting forces might not easily spring up, not that 
our rule itself may not possibly be calling out forces 
which may ultimately tend to disruption, nor yet that 
the Empire is altogether free from the danger of a 
sudden catastrophe. But for the present we are 
driven both by necessity and duty to a closer union. 
Already we should ourselves suffer greatly from dis- 
ruption, and the longer the union lasts the more 
important it will become to us. Meanwhile the same 
is true in an infinitely greater degree of India itself. 
The transformation we are making there may cause 
us some misgivings, but though we may be led con- 
ceivably to wish that it had never been begun, nothing 


could ever convince us that it ought to be broken off 
in the middle. 

Altogether I hope that our long course of medita- 
tion upon the expansion of England may have led 
you to feel that there is something fantastic in all 
those notions of abandoning the colonies or abandon- 
ing India, which are so freely broached among us. 
Have we really so much power over the march of 
events as we suppose ? Can we cancel the growth of 
centuries for a whim, or because, when we throw a 
hasty glance at it, it does not suit our fancies 1 The 
lapse of time and the force of life, " which working 
strongly binds," limit our freedom more than we 
know, and even when we are not conscious of it at all. 
It is true that we in England have never accustomed 
our imaginations to the thought of Greater Britain. 
Our politicians, our historians still think of England 
not of Greater Britain as their country; they still 
think only that England has colonies, and they allow 
themselves to talk as if she could easily whistle them 
off, and become again with perfect comfort to herself 
the old solitary island of Queen Elizabeth's time, " in 
a great pool a swan's nest." But the fancy is but a 
chimera produced by inattention, one of those 
monsters for such monsters there are which are 
created not by imagination but by the want of 
imagination ! 

But though this is a conclusion to which I am led, 
it is not the conclusion which I wish to leave most 
strongly impressed on your minds. What I desire 
here is not so much to impart to you a just view of 


practical politics, as a just view of the object and 
method of historical study. My chief aim in these 
lectures has been to show in what light the more 
recent history of England ought to be regarded by 
the student. It seems to me that most of our 
historians, when they come to these modern periods, 
lose the clue, betray embarrassment in the choice of 
topics, and end by producing a story without a moral. 
I have argued in the first place that history is con- 
cerned, not mainly with the interesting things which 
may have been done by Englishmen or in England, 
but with England herself considered as a nation and 
a state. To make this more plain I have narrated 
nothing, told no thrilling stories, drawn no heroic 
portraits ; I have kept always before you England as 
a great whole. In her story there is little that is 
dramatic, for she can scarcely die, and in this period 
at least has not suffered or been in danger of suffer- 
ing much. What great changes has she undergone 
in this period ' Considerable political changes no 
doubt, but none that have been so memorable as 
those she underwent in the seventeenth century. 
Then she made one of the greatest political dis- 
coveries, and taught all the world how liberty might 
be adapted to the conditions of a nation-state. On 
the other hand the modern political movement, that 
of Reform or Liberalism, began not in England but 
on the Continent, from whence we borrowed it. The 
peculiarly English movement, I have urged, in this 
period has been an unparalleled expansion. Grasp 
this fact, and you have the clue both to the eighteenth 


and the nineteenth centuries. The wars with France 
from Louis XIV. to Napoleon fall into an intelligible 
series. The American Eevolution and the conquest 
of India cease to seem mere digressions and take 
their proper places in the main line of English history. 
The growth of wealth, commerce, and manufacture, 
the fall of the old colonial system and the gradual 
growth of a new one, are all easily included under 
the same formula. Lastly this formula binds to- 
gether the past of England and her future, and leaves 
us, when we close the history of our country, not 
with minds fatigued and bewildered as though from 
reading a story that has been too much spun out, 
but enlightened and more deeply interested than ever, 
because partly prepared for what is to come next. 

I am often told by those who, like myself, study 
the question how history should be taught, Oh, you 
must before all things make it interesting ! I agree 
with them in a certain sense, but I give a different 
sense to the word interesting a sense which after all 
is the original and proper one. By interesting they 
mean romantic, poetical, surprising ; I do not try to 
make history interesting in this sense, because I have 
found that it cannot be done without adulterating 
history and mixing it with falsehood. But the word 
interesting does not properly mean romantic. That 
is interesting in the proper sense which affects our 
interests, which closely concerns us and is deeply im- 
portant to us. I have tried to show you that the 
history of modern England from the beginning of 
the eighteenth century is interesting in this sense, 


because it is pregnant with great results which will 
affect the lives of ourselves and our children and the 
future greatness of our country. Make history inter- 
esting indeed ! I cannot make history more interest- 
ing than it is, except by falsifying it. And therefore 
when I meet a person who does not find history inter- 
esting, it does not occur to me to alter history, I try 
to alter him. 


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