THE EARL OF CARNARVON
, who had given notice to call the attention of the House to the present relations of the Colonies with this Country; and to move for Copies of Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Governor General of Canada and the Governors of the Australian Colonies on the reduction of the Military Forces stationed in those Colonies, said: My Lords, the Speech which Her Majesty was graciously pleased to communicate to us a few nights ago was one of more than usual length, and the subjects with which it dealt were, perhaps, of more than usual importance. But there was one question to which some reference might well have been expected, but to which scarcely any allusion was made—that of our colonial relations. Now, with the exception, perhaps, of the various considerations with regard to Ireland, there are scarcely any subjects which have within the last few months been more in the public mind than the various questions relating to our colonial empire; we have had a grave and even dangerous crisis in New Zealand; we have heard of a rebellion in the Red River Colony; we have had a petition from certain agitators in British Columbia, praying for annexation to the neighbouring republic: we have had the public mind stirred very much on the question of State aid to colonial emigration. It was with some surprise, therefore, that I remarked a silence on colonial subjects 194 in Her Majesty's Speech. Now, in opening the subject to which I propose to call attention, I wish at once to explain that I do not propose to enter upon any one of those controverted questions; for the matter which I desire to bring before your Lordships is of itself so large that I do not desire to engraft any collateral matter upon it. I propose rather to draw attention to the relations which exist between ourselves and our great self-governing Colonies—first of all, in what may be called the incidents of civil government, and afterwards in that which is, after all, one of the main ties which bind them to us—the question of military organization and defence. We have a colonial Empire such as perhaps no other people ever possessed. Spain had a great colonial Empire, but it has almost disappeared. France had considerable dependencies across the seas, but she has seen them gradually absorbed by other nations. England alone has built up a vast structure, and though we have lost a part, we have been enabled to preserve a great deal. Our colonial Empire has, indeed, been the child, sometimes of accident, and sometimes of mistake; but in spite of all it is an Empire of which we have reason to be proud, and which I trust English statesmen will long continue to cherish. We at one time had great Colonies which we taxed injudiciously and contrary to the sound principles of government; they revolted, and we lost them; and let me say in passing, that of all the calamities which have befallen this country, I regard that separation as perhaps the greatest disaster, in itself and still more in the manner in which it was brought about. We gained other Colonies, some of which we have lost, others of which we retain. As time went on, other difficulties and differences arose. To some of our Colonies we sent our convicts; after a while they refused to take them, a struggle ensued, and we had the good sense to waive the point. Again we indulged in every conceivable theory of trade—sometimes theories which were obviously; adverse to colonial, and sometimes theories as obviously adverse to Imperial interests. But time went on, and other changes were introduced. We gave them self-government, perhaps, in too indiscriminate a manner, and in some cases prematurely; we lavished upon 195 them a profuse expenditure from home resources, till we suddenly found that we had shifted to ourselves burdens which had previously been placed upon them. At the present time the self-governing Colonies have little, I think, to complain of. They have the amplest measure of self-government; they have personal and political freedom, without stint; they have legislative and administrative liberty to do almost as they please; and whenever an Imperial veto has been exercised it has been exercised for their safety and welfare, so as to lighten their burdens, correct the mistakes of their administration, and give them the facilities which it is our duty to afford them, but which it is also to their advantage to possess. It may further be said that English statesmen, and English Governments and Parliaments, without exception, for many years have acted towards our Colonies, sometimes, no doubt, under mistaken impressions, but always with an honest and unselfish purpose, and in perfect good faith. And the result has been that during the last ten or fifteen years the old feelings of irritation which used to exist—the jealousy of Downing-street influence and of the Secretary of State—have gradually been fading away into visions of the past, and the Secretary of State has come to be looked upon by the Colonies rather as a friendly arbiter and adviser, on whom they can count in times of difficulty. But I am bound to say that within the last few months a change seems to have occurred in this respect which I deeply deplore. Feeling the value of our Colonies, I can conceive very few equivalents indeed which it would be worth exchanging against the cordial feelings which have been heretofore entertained; yet that feeling is changing. A feeling of jealousy and irritation has sprung up, and I must ask Her Majesty's Government and this House to consider the question as calmly and dispassionately as they can; for though I am quite aware that I am trenching upon ground which may seem to have a personal significance, I can assure your Lordships that I am not guided by any party spirit. I readily admit that in the agitation which has been going on during the last few months there has been considerable misunderstanding; but some truth, no doubt, there has been in it, 196 and that truth we must endeavour to disentangle. A great many remedies have been proposed; to some of which I will first of all refer, because they have, I think, furnished ground for misapprehension. I put aside, as your Lordships will understand, all those Colonies which come under the head of military or commercial posts, and those which are or ought to be Crown Colonies, and will deal only with the self-governing Colonies—the Dominion of Canada, the Australian Colonies, and New Zealand. My Lords, schemes have been put forward for what may be called a Confederation of the Empire. There has been a consciousness that this great Empire is Imperial in name, and local in effect and in power; and there has accordingly been a desire to tighten the bonds which at present seem to have a tendency to relax. Confederation, it has been said, might be accomplished either by giving the Colonies representation in the British Parliament, or by some such agency as the Supreme Court of the United States. I do not, however, think it worth while to go into that question. I have often weighed the arguments for I and against it, and though I would gladly accept such a Confederation if I thought it possible, I am afraid it is really impossible. Again, it has been argued by persons of considerable weight here and in the Colonies themselves that the creation of a Council corresponding in character to the Indian Council in this country would afford the Secretary of State more information on important colonial questions than he is supposed now to obtain. But the objection to such a Council is that there is no analogy between our colonial and our Indian Empire. Our colonial Empire consists of a variety of countries in different parts of the world, in different stages of advancement, and under different forms of government—in most cases having little or no connection with each other, in many having almost absolute power of self-government; whereas the whole of India is placed under an almost despotic administration. In former days agents used to represent the different Colonies in this country, and I believe Mr. Roebuck was agent for the great colony of Canada. That system, I have always understood, worked well; but it must be remembered that the Colonies were then in a very different state from what they are in now, and I doubt whe- 197 ther a recurrence to that plan would meet the object in view. With regard, indeed, to a Council it would be extremely difficult for this country to obtain the presence of the best men to represent the interests of the Colonies. All acquainted with the state of our Colonies are aware that there—as, indeed, in every country—the supply of first-class men is limited, and you would not get, certainly, the best men who would be really representative, of the existing Governments, or Parliaments, or parties. In a colony so distant as Australia, a change of Government might often happen, which should make it necessary that their representatives should be replaced, independently of the fact that there is no strong connection between the different Colonies which would enable you to form a homogeneous and working Council. If anything showed this more plainly than another, it was a meeting of colonial gentlemen in Cannon Street, which took place two months ago. I observed that, at the very first meeting, while some of the representatives of the large Australian Colonies complained of a coldness on the part of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville), and of his reluctance to interfere in New Zealand and in other matters, a gentleman from the West Indies complained that there was too much interference on the part of the Crown. I may say in passing that two at least of the great self-governing Colonies of Australia have distinctly repudiated the action of these self-constituted and irresponsible advisers; though, on the other hand, they have expressed no approval of the policy of the noble Earl. With regard to information to be given to the Secretary of State, I quite admit that there are cases in which it is desirable that more information should be at the command of the Secretary of State; but I think such cases are few. There are cases of real importance, of Imperial concern, and in these you already secure the best men from the colony. On questions of vital interest the best men are sent over. During the short time that I held the seals of the Colonial Office, while the confederation of British North America was pending, I received a deputation of twelve or fourteen gentlemen, the best men who could be selected from the Provinces, and who represented every shade of opinion. They 198 spent a considerable time here, discussing every clause and almost every line in the Confederation Bill, and it was by their assistance that the scheme was at last brought to a satisfactory conclusion. On great questions, therefore, you can command the presence of the very best representatives; while in small cases the best men cannot be spared, and you would be forced to avail yourselves of inferior men. With regard, then, to furnishing the Secretary of State with information I have come to the conclusion that our existing system works, at all events, so well that we need not on this ground, alone have recourse to the remedy proposed. Another proposal has been made. It has been said that our Colonies have now reached such a stage of growth that they might pass into the character of allies, and the intercourse with them might be rather of a diplomatic than of an official character. I certainly should entertain no jealousy if I thought that time had come, but I do not think that it has. Ultimately, indeed, it may be so, but it must be at a later stage; and it is needless to point out that diplomatic relations between England and her Colonies would, at all events, now tend to weaken the connection rather than to strengthen it. Lastly, there was a proposal thrown out by the noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey), who believes that the concessions which we have made to our self-governing Colonies might be, with their consent, and to the advantage of all parties, be modified. I am not sure that I do not agree with him, so far as to think that they have been, in some cases, excessive; at the same time I think the force of circumstances was such as to render the concessions very often inevitable, and looking at things broadly it was best for our Colonies, and probably for ourselves, that those concessions were then made. Excessive as they may be, the attempt to recall them would now be hopeless and impossible. To quote an illustration—which is not mine—it is as if a father, rightly or wrongly, had parted with his estate to his children, and in later years, on re-consideration, was desirous of repossessing himself of his power. But he would find that it had really gone, and that he could only appeal to the natural affection of his children. That I believe to be our present position towards our Colonies. But does it follow that no 199 improvement in our present relations is possible, and that we must drift on carelessly, reckless whither we are going? Certainly not; and I am confident that if on the part of English statesmen there exists—as I believe there does on the part of colonial statesmen—a desire to find a remedy, and to knit up the different portions of the Empire once more into closer bonds one with another, a way can be found, and more or less effectually, the task can be accomplished. The problem is to secure and preserve on the one hand the self-government which you have given to the different Colonies, and on the other hand to add to it a more real connection than that which now exists. It may be hard, but I do not believe it in any sense impossible. There are several influences, at all events, which may greatly tend to facilitate such a result. In the first place, a greater sympathy, a greater heartiness of expression, a greater affection, a more sincere pride in this great Empire, are nil circumstances which would tend to promote the object in view. Will the noble Earl (Earl Granville) forgive me for saying that the consideration and courtesy of speech so often shown by him in this House to all your Lordships who have come into political contact with him, have for some strange reason, I know not what, apparently deserted him in his correspondence with the Colonies? Will, he forgive me for saying that despatches, however accurate, their logic, however incontestable their facts, ought not always to be written in hard terms? I may remind him of the French proverb, that all the truth is not at all times to be said; and so with regard to many of these Colonies, despatches couched in harsh terms and with severe logic, running up as it were a debtor and creditor account between us and them, are not the mode in which we can heal wounded feelings, or soothe men who, after all, are smarting under the sense of property destroyed, the lives of relations lost, and injuries of all sorts. I wish that the noble Earl could come to some understanding with the great self-governing Colonies as to what it is which they conceive would really be best for maintaining the Imperial connection, and what they consider necessary to be done. I think he was perfectly right in declining the conference proposed to him by the 200 self-constituted advisers of the Colonies here in London; but I wish he had at the same time invited the co-operation of the Parliaments and local Governments of the great Colonies in contributing their opinions towards the solution of the question. In the next place, an influence to which he might appeal with perfect certainty of success is the influence of the Crown, whether we look upon it in the abstract or whether it represents, as it does in these Colonies, the virtues and high qualities of the Sovereign who now wears it. It is very much the fashion among a certain class of travellers to dilate upon their material prosperity and growth, and national expansion, and everything which brings them apparently into relationship with the republican institutions of the United States, while exhibiting a singular desire to leave entirely out of sight the vast influence of the Crown and the feelings of loyalty which it calls forth. But, there is no part of Her Majesty's dominions where there is a more ardent feeling of devotion than in these Colonies; no part, I believe, which would be prepared to make sacrifices with greater cheerfulness on behalf of the Sovereign or the national honour. Is it wise to throw away all that feeling as useless lumber? Lastly, is another mode of action which possibly might facilitate the object in view. There is an old English proverb—"Short reckonings make long friends," and I believe nothing contributes more towards a good understanding between man and man, and nation and nation, than a distinct understanding of the different powers they may both exercise, and the lines which separate one from the other. Now, there can be no doubt that in our colonial Empire, which has been the gradual growth of time and circumstances, the powers exercised by the Imperial Government on the one hand, and the colonial authorities on the other, have not been clearly marked out. It would be well if Her Majesty's Government would consider the practicability of defining some of these powers. Time, no doubt, was when without much difficulty we might have had one great commercial system. That has passed by. Time was also when we might have had one financial system. I do not think it is too late even now to have one common coinage in Her Majesty's Empire. Moreover, I can conceive 201 many cases in which the law might, with advantage to England, and still greater to the Colonies, be made common and uniform throughout every part of the Empire. These are questions at which, of course, I can only hint, but which deserve the attention of the Government, and on which they might safely invite the co-operations of our great Colonies. Above all they ought to consider what should be the principles upon which the military defence of the Empire should be placed. They should bear in mind that the military organization of the Empire might be a great source of strength, and, that, at all events, it is the one great tie which still holds the Colonies to England. I wish, indeed, it were possible that an Englishman and a Colonist, when they passed to their respective countries, should feel that they were members of the same great Empire, that they should know no difference whatever except in sky and climate, and that in all other respects the Englishman should feel himself a citizen in Canada, and the Canadian should feel himself no stranger in England. It is impossible not sometimes to indulge in the belief—though circumstances at this moment are adverse—that such a great Confederation might even yet be achieved—a Confederation of which England might be the centre, and of which all the members would be bound to her by a tie which might go on for uncounted generations. What fatal policy is it then which tempts us deliberately and with our eyes open to throw all this to the winds—to abandon these sources if possible—and if possible then of incalculable—strength, and to allow this country to subside into the position of a second Holland? Canada, it is true, entails on us political responsibilities; but I believe that that great Dominion which Parliament three years ago built up was created in the interest of Canada, in the interest of England, and also in the interest of that great continent of which she forms a part. New Zealand also entails political difficulties on us; but a Minister must look beyond the present generation, and who can doubt that New Zealand, with her climate and her resources, is destined to be one of the future Englands of the southern sea? Australia I will not say entails any difficulty upon you, for it does not cost you a farthing; but Australia is interwoven 202 with our Eastern trade, and if you would preserve that trade and retain the great commercial monopoly which you have now created for yourselves, is it not wise—is it not a matter of common prudence—to remain on the most friendly terms with Australia? I know it is sometimes said that if the Colonies go trade will remain exactly the same. But depend upon it trade flows greatly in the channels of political influence, and if you break off or impair your political connection with Australia, your commerce with it will inevitably suffer. Or is it fear of responsibilities that is governing your present policy? Is it fear in North America of the political liabilities to which you would be exposed? Is it some misgiving of yourselves and your own future conduct, if you come into disagreeable relations with the United States? If I thought that, I should say the feeling and spirit of this country had sunk very low indeed. God forbid that this country and the United States should ever be on other than terms of amity! God knows that no calamity could befall the whole civilized world greater than a collision between these two nations; but we gain nothing by shrinking from the expression of our own opinion—by surrendering the duty and rights which unquestionably belong to us, and, above all, by hesitating to do that which is right, and to which we are pledged in honour, towards our Canadian fellow-subjects. I say, then, if it is not fear of such responsibilities which is determining our course, is it—and that is the last supposition I can make—merely a question of expense? Is our object in the course we are adopting to make some miserable reduction financially, and is it for that purpose that we are jeopardizing our connection with the whole of our British North American Colonies? Now economy, no doubt, is extremely good—no man is more sensible of its merits than I am; but, after all, gold may sometimes be bought too dear, and he is not a prudent man who will not insure his house simply because he grudges the premium. The civil charges of the whole of our Colonies are so trifling—so insignificant, so absolutely trumpery—that they are not worth a moment's consideration. The military charges are the only real burden that can be said to weigh upon us;—and 203 lot me point out that they are not really a great burden to this country unless you propose to reduce largely your whole military establishment. If in recalling troops from Canada, you are prepared to strike those troops off the roll of the British Army, you of course effect a reduction. That is a very large question, on which I will not now enter; but I may say in passing that last year you struck off some 10,000 men; and that if this year, as it is rumoured, you strike off another 10,000, and find yourselves, as you probably will, without an adequate reserve, you place the fortunes of this country in a very critical position. The military organization for the defence of the Empire being now the main tie which binds the Colonies to us, I deeply regret, though on different grounds, the withdrawal of the troops, which I understand has been ordered from Australia and Canada. As long as the presence of troops in Colonies like Australia is not such in point of number as to weaken the resources of the mother Country—as long as their retention is not injurious to us—as long as the troops are placed under the control of the Crown—which I look upon as essential—and as long as the Colony is willing to pay its fair and, reasonable quota towards their maintenance, so long it seems to me to be unwise and churlish to withdraw them from our Colonies in their present stage. Test the Australian Colonies by these conditions. The number of troops was not large, they were under the distinct control of the Crown, and the Colonies paid on a fixed scale of charges, which, after long negotiation, I drew up with the Australian Governments when Secretary of State. It had been a matter of negotiation with several successive Secretaries of State, and the scale as settled was as fair and handsome a contribution as under the circumstances we had a right to expect. I admit the troops were not necessary either for internal or external defence, such a handful of troops being barely sufficient for purposes of State display, to fire salutes, guards of honour, and such like; but they were an outward and visible sign of the presence of the Empire which the colonists; deeply valued; they were the symbols of dominion and power, and they were not more than sufficient to give the colonists instruction in military dis- 204 cipline. In Victoria, for instance, there are several thousand men, armed, equipped, and officered, who are trained in a manner which would not only do no discredit to English Volunteers, but, I believe, superior even to English Volunteers, and it is impossible that they should learn their duty or get the tone and temper of military training if you strip the Colony of every British soldier. Possibly the noble Earl may remind me that when Secretary of State I withdrew the soldiers from the Cape. It is very true that I did so: but the reason was because their numbers were, as I conceived, far in excess of the necessities of the Colony, and because the Colony declined to make any payment on their account. That is not the case with the Australian Colonies; and, testing them by the conditions I have laid down, you will find that that withdrawal is not warranted by any sound argument. The case of Canada is a wholly different and, I am bound to say, a much more serious one. There you have a large territory confessedly lying open to attack, and you know that that attack, if ever made, will be made in great force. That territory has been held by the most competent judges to be capable of defence, and if there be a population pre-eminent in patrotism and in devotion to their soil and institutions and attachment to the mother Country, it is the people of Canada. And yet Her Majesty's Government, I regret to hear, have decided upon withdrawing all the troops from Canada. For a long time I could not believe such a decision, but I am afraid the noble Earl will confirm it. Those troops form the nucleus of the military force of the country—they form a centre round which the national levies can be grouped, and in time of war would be of great service: they are a standing school of instruction to the Canadian Volunteers. To put the whole matter in one word, their presence is the visible presence of the Empire, and their absence, whatever you may say, will be construed as the abandonment of the Empire. What excuse is there for the withdrawal of these troops? When I succeeded to the Colonial Office there were, I think, in British North America 11,000 or 12,000 English soldiers. Considerable danger from the Fenian aggression arose, and it was necessary, at much cost and trouble, to despatch a con- 205 siderable force—far in excess, I readily admit, of the normal and necessary force. The noble Duke who succeeded me (the Duke of Buckingham), and whose absence to-night I regret, reduced it, and I doubt not properly, to about 8,000; but I am sure it is not safe to go one man below that number. I understand, however, that last year it was again cut down by nearly 4,000, that there are now not much more than 3,000 in Canada, and that orders have been sent out, even against the strong opinion of the local Government, to withdraw every soldier. Now, if that be true, what does such a course really mean? I say nothing of what I must venture to call the extreme shabbiness of the policy. It was but three years ago that you built up this Dominion, and scarcely is it created that you heap upon it first one question and then another, which are really perhaps questions of Imperial concern—the Hudson's Bay territory question, the fisheries question, commercial relations with the United States, self-defence, the construction of fortifications—perhaps, for all I know, the San Juan question and British Columbia; and you say or imply that the sooner you wash your hands of the whole concern the better. Now, is this fair? Is this a policy worthy either of the noble Earl's position, of Her Majesty's Government, or of this great country? Look at what the Canadians have been and are doing, and at what we do. As far as I know, we pay absolutely nothing except some £4,000 or £5,000 with regard to the clergy, and I am not sure whether or not we have handed over to the Dominion the Indian reserves. If so, the total amount of our payments to Canada is about £5,000 a-year. We do not even grant them anything like a postal subsidy. More than that—until the present Government came into office, it was the custom, and a very right one, for a certain number of gunboats to be placed on the American lakes; but last year, I understand, they were taken off, and that means of defence, which cost us very little, which was very valuable and which can with great difficulty be undertaken by the Dominion Parliament, has been withdrawn and thrown upon them. In the same way we undertook, and still undertake, to superintend the fisheries—a most delicate question, as the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary well knows, 206 between us and the United States, always liable to give rise to controversy—but, I understand, we have gradually shifted that duty, or a large part of it, on to the Canadians, and, not content with that, have accompanied it by instructions so hampering in their nature that it is absolutely impossible for the Canadian ships to do the duty assigned to them and to exercise the proper control. Thus we have done very little for Canada. On the other hand, what has Canada, or rather what has she not, done for herself? There was never a case where any country in time of peace has shown a more earnest, cheerful, and hearty spirit in their own self-defence than the Canadians. They used to pay, while our troops were there, for their whole barrack accommodation, and in the short space of two years they raised their military estimates by millions of dollars. They maintain an active militia, admirably armed and equipped, very fairly trained, and on which no reasonable trouble or expense is spared, of upwards of 40,000 men. Upon that they have spent nearly half a million of money. And, lastly, they have voted—and that is no trifling sum—£1,100,000 for the permanent fortifications and defences of Canada. Consider what a sum £1,100,000 is to Canada! There are not more than 4,000,000 of inhabitants altogether; therefore, in effect, each individual must have taxed himself upon the average to the extent of 5s. simply to provide these fortifications. I say, then, that we have no reason to complain of what Canada has done. But I ask your Lordships to consider whether this policy of withdrawal is not impolitic as well as shabby. You have yourselves laid out within the last few years £250,000 upon the defences of Quebec, and about £250,000 for the defences of Halifax. If British troops are to be withdrawn from Canada, what are you going to do with those fortifications—are you going to leave Quebec without a soldier? Having spent £250,000 of English money upon those fortifications, are you not going to leave a British soldier to keep guard over them? Are you going to keep Halifax? I presume you mean to do so; but do you flatter yourselves with the idea that, after withdrawing your garrisons from the whole of British North America, you can still retain Halifax for your own purposes? And can you then hope to retain 207 the rest of your American dependencies? It is only necessary to state the proposition to show how utterly absurd it is. If you lose Halifax, you must also make up your mind to lose Bermuda, and with Bermuda go, for whatever they are worth, the West Indies. If you lose those, you will also lose all your Newfoundland seamen, and all that great tonnage which makes your commercial navy the first in the world. Your whole commerce on the eastern side of the continent of America will be shaken—possibly your whole commerce on the western side, towards China and Japan—possibly, even towards India, as an alternative route. You are going out of your way, as it seems to me, to pledge this country to the first step towards national decay. I say again your policy is dangerous. You are going to strip your Canadian Provinces of every man. Why? You are about to strip the Province of troops although you know that within the last six mouths you have had several attempts at Fenian outrage and invasion directed against the border. Some of these have been put down by the vigilance of the Canadian authorities; but nevertheless—
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
I am afraid that, if the noble Earl will inquire, he will find that there is a good deal of truth in what I say. I will correct myself so far as to say that there have been distinct threatenings of Fenian invasion. I quite admit that they have not come to a head; but there have been distinct threatenings of Fenian outbreaks, and they have been simply put down by the vigilance and activity of the Canadian Government, and if made in force that Government would probably have needed the co-operation of Her Majesty's troops. But having withdrawn every British soldier, if these Fenian attacks take a more serious and larger form than has hitherto been the case, what will you do? Are you going to send back the troops at great trouble and expense? If so, it seems rather idle to bring them to England in the first instance, and then send them all the way back again to Canada. On the other hand, if you do not send them 208 back again, are you going to leave Canada to shift for herself? On this point I hope we shall have a clear and explicit answer from the noble Earl. I hope that Her Majesty's Government are serious in the belief that the course they are now taking will not lead to the dismemberment of the Empire; but I warn them—as everyone who stands calmly and impartially by must warn them—that, whatever may be their meaning, they are doing the very acts, they are taking the very steps which must accomplish that result. It is very easy to utter fair words, to make speeches, and to use expressions flattering to Canada, or any other country; but men must be judged by their acts, and it is to the acts of Her Majesty's Government that we are compelled to look. It is but a few weeks since a Member of Her Majesty's Government, Mr. Forster, the Vice President of the Committee of Council for Education, made a very eloquent speech to his constituents at Bradford, and he is reported to have spoken as follows:—I rejoice that this question has been brought forward, inasmuch as it has made it clear to me that neither in England nor in the Colonies do we intend that the Empire shall be broken up. It may be a dream, but still I believe in its fulfilment. I believe the time will come when, not only England and her Colonies, but all English, speaking nations, will enter into one great confederation.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
Before the noble Earl argues upon that let me remind him of the correction made by Mr. Forster—that he did not intend that observation to apply to the United States.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
I am quite aware of it; but it does not apply to what I am about to say. I perfectly agree with the frank, earnest, and outspoken words of Mr. Forster, and I am quite sure he meant everything he said; but I am equally sure that if the present course of the Government be persisted in, his words will certainly be invested with an ominous significance—it will be a dream, indeed, and the British Empire will be broken up. In the same way, the noble Earl the Secretary of State told us the other night that it was absurd to ask him, or any other Minister, to say that he had not advised the Crown to dismember the Empire. Of course we all know the noble Earl would be as incapable of advising the Crown in that sense as the Crown would be incapable 209 of listening to such advice. But I hope the noble Earl will speak more plainly than he spoke the other night, and will toll us, as Lord Palmerston told the House of Commons on a former occasion—that it was no Colonial question—it was an Imperial question, that every part of the Empire was equally dear to this country, and that this country, so long as the Colonies retained their affection and allegiance to the Crown, was prepared to submit to any sacrifices rather than submit to the dismemberment of the Empire. It is important that the noble Earl should now speak plainly. There are whispers abroad that there is a policy on foot to dismember this Empire. I cannot believe it, but it is said that such a policy exists. If there is such a policy, in God's name let us know it; if there be not, let it be disavowed. There have certainly been some confirmations of these rumours, of the force of which we are as capable of judging as anybody else. In the summer of last year the Governor General of Canada—and, in passing, I believe there never was a Governor General more deservedly popular than the present—attended a public meeting in Halifax, and there threw out, as was supposed at the time, an intimation that the time had possibly come, when Canada should consider whether or not she was ripe for independence. That unfortunate expression was received in a very different spirit from what many persons had supposed. It was met by a burst of almost passionate indignation, and Sir John Young took, I am happy to say, the very earliest opportunity of explaining that he had been misreported, and that the words attributed to him had altogether a different sense from that which he intended to express. From one point of view I regret that circumstance; from another I rejoice at it; but I shall be very glad to hear from the noble Earl whether any correspondence has passed between him and the Governor on the subject, and whether it is proposed to lay this on the table. The matter of the Rod River Settlement is not one into which I wish now to enter; it is perhaps a small question; but I should be glad to know that Her Majesty's Government have not stood coldly aloof, but have offered their co-operation and in case of necessity have promised support. A few months age a Petition was sent by certain residents in British Columbia to the President of 210 the United States, and I must say that the despatch of the noble Earl upon that subject, which I have seen, I deeply regretted. For though the general purport of the despatch, as it would ordinarily be construed, was to express a wish on the part of Her Majesty's Government that British Columbia should enter the Dominion of Canada, its purport might lead many persons to infer from that despatch that Her Majesty's Government wished to wash their hands of British Columbia in the same way that they seemed desirous to wash their hands of a great many other matters.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
I distinctly guarded myself by stating that I was referring to the general purport of the despatch. I have not the despatch by me now, but I shall be very happy to go into the question at any future day. These are all confirmations of the rumours that are afloat. One, two, or three of these circumstances by themselves might have little significance; but when they are all brought together and taken in conjunction with this policy for the withdrawal of troops at a time when Fenianism is making itself more or less felt—this withdrawal of troops, which are the symbol of authority and the guarantee of British support—they lend a confirmation to the whispers which are abroad. Five years ago—and in these times five years means a long period and many changes of opinion—a debate took place in the other House of Parliament about this time of the year. In that debate many Members of Her Majesty's Government took part; and a speech, which I well remember, was made by one noble Lord who now holds office in the House of Commons, and who then was in the Cabinet also. Speaking upon this very subject of Canadian defences, the question raised being whether or not a certain sum should be voted in aid of these fortifications, Lord Hartington said—I need say nothing of those hon. Gentlemen who think that it is impossible to defend Canada, I and that therefore it is impolitic to take any steps with that object in view. … That is an intelligible line of argument, and if the Committee thinks that the allegations upon which it is based are true, I hope it will say so at once, and will not wait to declare its opinions until we have induced the Canadians to spend a large amount of money and to raise a large body of men.211 There was another important speaker in that debate—he was then Secretary for the Colonies, and is now Secretary for War; therefore, no man's opinions could be entitled to have greater weight than Mr. Cardwell's. Mr. Cardwell said—I trust that the spirit to be found here will correspond with that which they have exhibited, and that, after we have been engaged for years in calling out the energies of the Canadian people, we shall not turn round on them at last and desire to recall the proposals which we have made."—He goes on to say—The primary defence of Canada consists in the knowledge of every foreign country that war with Canada implies also war with England; but the secondary defence of Canada is to be found in the spirit and energy of its own people"—I entirely agree with every word of that extract, except that I think the right hon. Gentleman rather reversed the order, and that the secondary defence ought to have been put first. Lastly, Lord Palmerston, then at the head of the Government, winding up the debate and speaking for the Cabinet, of which, by the way, there are still some six or eight Members in the present Government, said—This is not a Canadian, it is not a local, it is an Imperial question. We think we can, by the fortifications now proposed, put Canada into such a state of defence that, with the exertions of her own population, and assisted by the military force of this country, she will be able to defend herself from attack.But, my Lords, there was another speaker during that debate, who was not then a Member of Her Majesty's Government, and at that time spoke from the back-Benches—Mr. Bright; and I must say, in passing, I deeply regret, widely as I differ from Mr. Bright, that at this moment he is unable to be in his place in Parliament at this important period—Mr. Bright said—We are talking folly when we say that the Government of this country would send either ships or men to make an effectual defence of Canada against the power of the United States. … I do not object to separation in the least; I believe it would be better for us and better for them.There was yet another Member of Her Majesty's present Government who spoke in that debate, and with remarkable power—I mean the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Lowe said— 212We ought, in my opinion, to tell Canada that we will defend her with all our strength, that we consider her interests bound up with ours, that we will fight for her to the last so long as she belongs to us, but that we see no chance of defending her on her own ground. If she chooses British connection she must take it subject, to this condition. … We should also represent to her that it is perfectly open to her to establish herself as an independent republic. … It is our duty, too, to represent to her that if, after well-weighed consideration, she thinks it more to her interest to join the great American Republic itself, it is the duty of Canada to deliberate for her own interests and happiness.Now, I ask your Lordships which of these three policies is most clearly shadowed out by the course now pursued by Her Majesty's Government—the policy advocated by Lord Hartington and Mr. Cardwell, and sanctioned so emphatically by Lord Palmerston; or that urged by Mr. Bright; or that recommended by Mr. Lowe? For myself, I must say I read with feelings of deep misgiving the course indicated by Mr. Lowe, which, as far as I can judge, seems to me to be carried out literally and completely; I trust the noble Earl may be able to dispel them. I do not complain of Mr. Bright or Mr. Lowe, or of their views; but I do say that it is too late now, for the honour of the country, to adopt that line of action. If the object of our whole national life is to become the mere workshop of the world, to give no hostages to Fortune, to run no risks, to incur no liabilities, but merely to accumulate money, well; but no nation, more than any individual, can afford to live a selfish life, wrapping itself up in its own miserable interests. If it does, it will inevitably come to disaster abroad and discredit at home—it will lose alike the respect of others and its own. If there is any lesson which we should draw from the loss of the United States, it is the misfortune of parting from those Colonies in ill-will and irritation. We parted with those great Colonies because we attempted to coerce them; and if we now part with our present Colonies, it will be because we expel them from our dominion. The circumstances are different, but the result will be the same; and that result must be the bitter alienation and undying enmity of these great countries. For my own part, I see with dismay the course which is now being taken—a course at once cheeseparing in point of economy and spendthrift in point of na- 213 tional character. I will be no party to it, and I beg to enter my humble and earnest protest against a course which I conceive to be ruinous to the honour and fatal to the best interests of the Empire.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, in the first place I will appeal to your Lordships to follow the example of the noble Earl who has just spoken in one respect. I appeal to your Lordships whether the terms of the original Notice given by the noble Earl, to "call the attention of the House to the present relations of the Colonies with this Country," could have prepared your Lordships for the course of observation in which he has indulged. The Motion, as its terms originally stood, was a perfectly legitimate one—it was certainly large and comprehensive—so comprehensive that there was hardly a question in polities, in finance, in international and commercial policy, that could not be introduced in connection with it. The noble Earl rather confined it by his addition. On Thursday, by the courtesy which never abandons the noble Earl, although it may sometimes abandon me, he gave me private notice that he did not intend to allude to New Zealand in the course of this debate. Now, with reference to emigration and New Zealand, I think it my duty to appeal to those of your Lordships who might wish to introduce those special topics in this debate not to do so, but to take an early opportunity of calling attention to them—and the earliest possible opportunity will be most acceptable to me. In regard to that part of the subject, I cannot help thinking it is just possible that in avoiding New Zealand altogether the noble Earl was influenced by the extreme difficulty of making an invidious attack on the Government for its New Zealand policy, without exposing himself in more points than one to that most inconclusive and disagreeable process of reasoning called the argumentum ad hominem. With respect, my Lords, to the speech of the noble Earl, I must own to some slight embarrassment—first of all, because I am perfectly ignorant of certain facts alleged by the noble Earl, and in the next place, because the noble Earl's argument seemed to be an attack against some policy of mine, without in any way defining what that policy seemed to him to be. I certainly conceived that the noble Earl had been 214 satisfied up to a very recent period with the relations between this country and the Colonies. The speech he made quite at the end of last Session contained not one word of attack on the colonial policy of the Government, such as we have recently heard so much of in Cannon Street and elsewhere. But it appears that the policy of the Government towards New Zealand has in the opinion of the noble Earl, placed the relations of England with her Colonies in a most unsatisfactory position—that our relations with our great self-governing communities have produced irritation and dissatisfaction. All I can say, my Lords, is, I am not aware of it. Your Lordships are aware of the circular issued by three gentlemen inviting to a colonial conference respecting the relations between the Colonies and the mother Country, and proposing something like the establishment of a universal college in regard to the Colonies. That proposal was based on the ground, as it was said, of the unsatisfactory state of those relations; and though, perhaps, it was not very happily launched, it received a good deal of approbation in this country. My noble Friend on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey) highly approves of the plan, though at the same time he has pointed out certain difficulties which to me appear insuperable. The proposal was sent out to every one of our self-governing communities. By a subsequent mail I sent out a short despatch giving the reasons why I thought the proposal was not a desirable one. Now, supposing that great discontent, great irritation, and great dissatisfaction at the relations of this country with the Colonies existed in each of those Colonies, and such an opportunity occurred for such a scheme being proposed, even though the Colonies did not approve of the exact character of the scheme, would not that proposal have been a spark of light to have fired up any amount of gunpowder, if such gunpowder existed? Is it not also quite clear, that if that state of dissatisfaction; actually existed the very fact of an argumentative despatch from the Colonial Office, taking an opposite view, would have added fuel to the fire? There may, of course, be some evidence of a different character. One of the three gentlemen—Mr. Youl, who issued the circular, told me a few months ago that he had received a favourable answer from some 215 of the Colonies to the proposition, and promised to forward it to me; but he has either forgotten the circumstance or has been prevented by press of business from doing so. All I can say is that without exception all the replies I have received either agree with the reasons which I set forth in my despatch, or give an absolute and decided negative to the proposal for a conference. Even New Zealand declined, taking the wiser and more judicious course of sending to this country two of its statesmen of high character and knowledge of the circumstances of the case. The noble Earl says that some of these Colonies do not approve the policy I have adopted towards New Zealand; but, finding fault with the policy adopted with regard to one single Colony, is a very different thing from finding fault with the relations between the mother Country and the whole of the Colonies. Now, I am not aware that any single self-governing Colony has anything like a grievance against us. Take Canada, for instance. Though there have been questions of great difficulty to consider, such as the transfer of the Hudson's Hay territory, and the Red River dispute; and, though there may be slight differences of opinion on certain small points, such as might arise at times between the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office, or the War Office and the India Office, yet is impossible to be in more cordial relations than we are with Canada; and I should like to know the time when our relations with the self-governing Colonies were more satisfactory than at present. Was it when the West Indies, experiencing alternate periods of prosperity and depression, were always complaining to the home country; or, when the state of disunion in Canada created alarm in this country; or when, twenty years ago, a letter was sent by Mr. Fitzgerald to Mr. Gibbon Wakefield, inviting the latter to come out to witness the historical event of the separation of Australia from this country, which, at that time, he thought imminent? The noble Earl, however, assuming the existence of an evil starts certain remedies. One great remedy is, that I should be more polite; and, in mentioning that, he paid me an undeserved compliment as to the usual urbanity of my manner. Now, I do not pretend to be more courteous, or to 216 have a better temper than others, though I have made it my endeavour not to introduce unnecessary asperities or personalities in transacting business, either privately or publicly; but when the noble Earl says that the essence of politeness is not always to tell the truth, but to go on with a system of mutual deception, I entirely dissent from the opinion that that is a right way of dealing with our great self-governing Colonies. The noble Earl has found fault with a despatch of mine, because he thinks the logic in it unusually rigorous. I have looked once more through these despatches, and I do not find an uncivil phrase in anyone of them; and if logic is to be used at all, a little rigour is not, in my opinion, a bad thing. But, as last year, the noble Earl said that there was nothing the Colonies more disliked than the appearance of indifference, I conclude the best course to pursue in public as in private life is, when an appeal is made to any person, to give a true reply. One good suggestion of the noble Earl is one for a common coinage. As to that, I can only say I should be glad to have a common coinage, not alone for England and her colonies, but for the whole world. The noble Earl also suggested the drawing of a despatch to define in black and white the exact relations of the mother Country to the self-governing Colonies. I may be wrong, but I have great doubts whether such a proceeding would not have the effect rather of dissolving than of cementing the union. Would it not at once excite the greatest possible jealousy among the Colonies, and give rise to the greatest suspicion that we intended to take back from the Colonies some portion of that perfect freedom which has been granted to them? I do not agree with the noble Earl that the great bond between the Colonies and this country is the military protection afforded to the former; for I am of opinion that the ties which bind us together are loyalty to the Crown, goodwill between the colonies and the mother Country, and a reciprocity of mutual advantages. When this state of things shall cease to exist, the idea of compelling by force any great and self-governing Colony to remain connected with this country is an idea which no statesman would entertain; though no statesman should take too seriously any lightly expressed wish on the part of a Colony for separation from this 217 country. The noble Earl, notwithstanding what he did himself, and what previous Secretaries for the Colonies have done, seems to think it a perfectly novel plan for Her Majesty's Government to throw more and more the burden of self-defence on those Colonies to which we have already accorded the most complete freedom and self-government. That, however, is no such novel thing, as the noble Earl seems to suppose. From the time that the policy of leaving the Colonies to undertake a larger share of their own defence than they had hitherto done was first introduced it has been followed almost without exception by every succeeding Government. All these things apart, I agree that a great Government like that of this country ought really to settle what their policy is, and to act upon it. The noble Earl thought it incumbent upon us even in time of peace to look to the defence of Canada. Now, I well remember Lord Palmerston asking General Wetherall what number of Imperial troops were necessary to defend Canada, with the help of the Canadians; and the answer was that it would require 15,000. I think there were 16,000 Imperial troops in Canada when the noble Earl came into office.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
As I explained, I believe there were about 12,000, and 4,000 were added in consequence of the Fenian movement.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
Well, the noble Earl first diminished the number of troops below that which was said to be the smallest number that ought to be there, and then further diminutions were agreed upon by the late Conservative Government. The policy of reduction thus initiated by the late Government has been continued by us, and last year we continued it still further, having first taken care to give the Government of the Dominion fair notice that a very short time would elapse before we should carry out that policy to the fullest extent. It would be out of place for me now to anticipate any statement with regard to the distribution of troops which will be made in a few days by the Secretary for War in moving the Army Estimates; but I quite admit that the general tendency of our policy is to devolve on a country like Canada, containing 4,000,000 of brave and spirited people, the duty of self-defence in time of peace. 218 The noble Earl has dwelt upon the very common topic that we shall take away a most important military nucleus, and that two or three highly-trained regiments leaven all the rest. I have no doubt that within certain limits there is truth in that. No doubt, if a war were impending, and it was necessary to drill and organize a force in two or three months, two or three regiments of the I Guards in Canada would prove invaluable; but in the long run I have much doubt whether such a nucleus is of real advantage in calling out the warlike capabilities of a great Colony. If we accustom the people to rely upon others for the focus and head of an army, and relieve them of a duty so easy as that of garrisoning such a fortress as Quebec, we do not strengthen, we invalidate the power they would be able to bring to our assistance in case of a war which might required all our combined energies to bring to a successful issue. A Committee of the House of Commons sat upon this subject in 1861, and the two principal recommendations at which they arrived were that the Colonies should bear the burden of their military self-defence, that we should concentrate our military forces at home, and that, for the protection of our enormous colonial Empire, our main reliance must be upon our maritime supremacy. My Lords, it is not a little astonishing that some of the persons who have recently been discussing our colonial policy, have predicted, under certain circumstances, the decline of this country. I confess, for myself, that I have not imagination sufficient to realize that vision. I see on all sides evidences of a very contrary character. Our population continues to grow to an extent that almost alarms me; our national wealth, in spite of periods of ebb and flow, increases steadily in a marvellous degree; our institutions are all cordially approved, and each successive improvement, as it is made, is cordially accepted by the whole community. As to our mercantile marine, it is infinitely larger and better in quality than that of any other nation in the world at the present time; and I am glad to say—I trust in no spirit of braggadocio—that our military marine is superior to that of every nation in the world. Now, the recommendations of the Committee to which I have referred were, as I have said, to concentrate the Army at 219 home, to throw upon those great and free Colonies the main burden and responsibility of their self-defence, and if war should come, to trust chiefly to our maritime supremacy, without which, indeed, it would be clearly impossible for us to maintain the conflict; and I believe that these recommendations are not unwise. With regard to the Dominion there are, no doubt, many thoughtful men, statesmen and speculative persons who, after deeply meditating the subject, have come to the conclusion that in course of time a perfectly friendly separation should take place between England and Canada rather than that the Dominion should assert its independence; but my firm belief is that at this moment a great majority of all the people of this country, and perhaps a still greater majority of the people of the Dominion, desire that the connection should be continued. The noble Earl seems to think that the withdrawal of 2,000 or 3,000 soldiers from the Dominion would be sufficient to destroy those strong feelings of attachment which now exist between the two countries. My Lords, as regards this country I have no doubt that step will strengthen rather than weaken that feeling. In a speech of last year the noble Earl mentioned three ways in which Imperial troops might be kept in our Colonies, and he frankly said that he objected to them all. First he said that Imperial troops might be maintained in the Colonies either at the orders and expense of the Imperial Government, which he deprecated; secondly, at the expense of the Imperial Government, and subject to local control, which was still worse; or under a sort of double command, in which the two parties were united, or disunited, which in the noble Earl's opinion was the most objectionable plan of all. I thought at first that these three were all the possible courses; but there is another alternative, and that is, keeping our troops in the Colony at the expense of the Colony, and retaining the command of them ourselves. I cannot help thinking that such a system would be one of the most likely causes of wrangling and quarrelling between a great self-governing Colony and this Country that the colonists should pay for the troops, and that on the occurrence of any great local emergency—created possibly by their own want of prudenee and foresight—they should be denied the use of the Im- 220 perial soldiers whom they had maintained for years. I believe one of the most fruitful causes of difficulty with the Colonies has been the necessity of arranging with them about troops; and nothing is more likely to increase difficulty than to adopt as permanent the system of retaining troops in the Colonies which we are to command while the Colonies bear the burden of their cost. The noble Earl said the Government of the Dominion strongly objected to any such course as our withdrawing the troops, not from Halifax but from other portions of the Dominion; but I have not heard of the Government of the Dominion expressing any such objection. I do, indeed, know that the first expression of popular opinion pointed, perhaps, in that direction; but I have received no information that the Government of the Dominion adopted the same view, or have expressed a strong opinion on the subject. The intention of the Colonial Office was clearly pointed out to them in the communications published last year; they have not protested against it and I think it extremely unlikely that we shall have any protest from them. My Lords, the governing men of the Dominion are statesmen—men of considerable pride, possibly not without ambition; they are proud of the nation into which they have been so recently created—and in the creation of which, let me say, the noble Earl opposite bears so large a share; and they are still more proud of the great future that lies before it; and they feel that they can do what the American colonists did in the last century, when, with the Spaniard on one side and the French on the other, and the whole burden of internal as well as external defence thrown upon them, they stood their ground successfully. The men of Canada believe that they could do the same should it become necessary. My Lords, without repeating that sort of debtor and creditor account which the noble Earl gave—with many particulars of which, should they be gone into, I am sorry to say I cannot agree—without entering into these details, they can say with perfect truth—"We have created a militia force of 40,000 men, available almost at a day's notice; and we can bring 500,000 able-bodied men into the field in case real need for their services should arise." My Lords, the noble Earl in the course of his speech, warned 221 us not to be animated by any pusillanimous fears of the Great Republic. Now, I believe at the present moment the wish of that Great Republic is to see Canada either independent, or—what they think would soon follow—annexed to the United States. But, even putting aside for the moment all questions of international justice, and putting also aside the difficulties of attempting to subjugate a brave and spirited population of 4,000,000—leaving those considerations on one side, I do not believe that, except in the case of a few rash and thoughtless men, the Americans at all entertain the wish to conquer the Canadas by force of arms. What they rely on is rather the pressure of a hostile tariff and the attractions of commercial and industrial intercourse, the mingling and commingling of the two great communities that are separated by the frontier line. But I will also say that if the United States are not deterred in any scheme of conquest against Canada by the fear of all the latent power which this country, in the case of an emergency, could bring to bear in defence of the Dominion, they would certainly not be alarmed or deterred by the presence of some two or three thousand red-coats—which, indeed, would rather excite them, as a red flag excites a bull, than exercise any deterrent or preventive influence. My Lords, I believe that the Canadian Government will accept the measure we have adopted in exactly the spirit in which it is intended. I believe they will understand that it is not a measure exclusively directed against the Dominion, but that it is based on principles which we think ought to be applicable to all our self-governing dependencies; and I believe they will accept the assurance which has been so often given, that this arrangement is one intended solely for a time of peace, and does not in the slightest degree alter or diminish the mutual obligations which exist between the Colony and the mother Country in case of war.
§ LORD LYTTELTON
My Lords, I wish to express my general agreement with the views of my noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon) on this question though, at the same time, like the Secretary of State, I am not aware of the exactness of one important statement on which my noble Friend's argument was based—I mean the great dissatisfaction which he says exists among the Colonies 222 generally. We are all aware that that is so, or was so, a short time ago in New Zealand; but in other Colonies—Australia especially—I have not met with any evidence of the existence of such a feeling as my noble Friend alleges. With regard to New Zealand, I will abstain, as requested by the Secretary of State, from discussing the affairs of that Colony, in which I take so much interest. I agree with my noble Friend opposite in regretting the tone of one or two of the despatches of the Secretary of State; but I will say that if the reply of my noble Friend (Earl Granville) to a certain deputation which waited upon him at the Colonial Office be correctly reported in the newspapers, I wish that all his despatches to the Colony had maintained the same tone, for in that case there would have been very little ground for complaint. Though not over sanguine on the subject, I trust that, from the recent accounts which have reached us as to the reception of the despatch of the Secretary of State, and as to the condition of the Colony generally, we have some valid ground for believing that the future of the Colony will be more satisfactory than its past. With the exception of New Zealand, I am not aware that in any other Colony there has been dissatisfaction or alienation from this country. However, the correctness of that statement is not necessary to support the basis on which the views of my noble Friend rested; and, on the whole, I believe them to be correct. I go further than he did, and regret that some means have not been found of securing something equivalent to a conference—some means of eliciting the opinion of the Colonies as to whether something might not be done to obtain a general union of Imperial interests over the whole of our possessions. If the Secretary of State had not deprecated discussion on that point also, I should have been glad to know what reply was given to a memorial lately signed for presentation to the Queen by a large number of working men in London, praying that something should be done to facilitate their emigration, in time of distress and difficulty, to distant parts of the Empire. I should have been glad if something could have been done to encourage these men by the reception given to their Address. As to 223 the question of military defence I take the same view generally -which my noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon) took, and I am glad that he had the courage to despise the sneers which are often made at what is called the sentimental argument from the prestige of the presence of British soldiers in the Colonies as a symbol of the British Empire, and of the ties which unite this country with her Colonies. Fully admitting that in time of danger the chief defence of our Empire must rest upon our naval supremacy, I still attach great weight to the presence of British soldiers in all our Colonies as a bond to strengthen the existing connection; nor do I conceive that such presence necessarily takes away from them the duty of self-defence. If the Colonies choose to pay for British soldiers—and I think they ought to pay, if not the whole cost, at least very nearly the whole—it is for them to decide whether it is advisable to do so; and provided they think it worth while for purposes of prestige or defence to have British troops they ought to be allowed to have them. With regard to the dilemma which, according to the Secretary of State, cannot be answered, I think the simple answer is that if the Colonies pay for our troops, they should have the control of them. The point is one for the consideration of the colonists themselves, and, if they desire it, I do not see why they should be deprived of what they think a valuable military nucleus, nor why they should not have the control of the force the cost of whose maintenance they defray. I have not yet heard the actual measare proposed respecting Canada, but I shall regret if the whole of our troops are to be withdrawn.
My Lords, it is not possible to overrate the importance of the subject introduced by the noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon), and though I am unable to arrive at the same conclusions upon several of the propositions he has submitted, and though I differ toto cœlo as to the policy we should pursue and the objects we should propose to ourselves in connection with the colonies. I think the noble Earl has done good service in enabling your Lordships to discuss the subject. Now, it is very easy to get up a cry against anyone who advocates an unpopular opinion on this subject, founded on the imputation that 224 you mean to "dismember the Empire" or that you desire to "cast off the Colonies." With regard to the dismemberment of the Empire, I hope I shall not shock the susceptibilities of noble Lords—I shall certainly not shock the sensibilities of the noble Earl who introduced this Motion—by saying that the dismemberment of the Empire has virtually already occurred; because the noble Earl in the early part of his speech himself said that the connection between England and her Colonies is a name rather than a reality. As to casting off the Colonies I should be the last person to say one word disrespectful of or derogatory to, the Colonies of this country. I have had official experience of one of the largest Colonies of the British Crown, and I can say with truth that I found in their Legislative Assemblies an offspring of which the mother of Parliaments has no need to be ashamed, and I found among her public men statesmen, worthy successors of that long line of illustrious persons who have brought the policy of England to its present eminence of power and prosperity. I have discussed these questions with these men fully and frankly, and I have never found that any evil results, either public or personal, arose from such a free and full interchange of opinion between them and myself on such points. I have, therefore, no fear that the free discussion of this subject will create any ill-feeling or do anything but good; at all events in the Dominion. On the other hand, I think there is some danger in our retaining the forms, the theories, and the language of a system which has been exploded and has passed away for ever, and to reproduce which, the noble Earl himself admits, would be a most visionary project—I mean that system under which the Home Government exercised coercive control over our colonial dependencies. I confess that I listened with considerable interest to the early part of the speech of the noble Earl. He began by admitting that the present state of our relations with the Colonies was unsatisfactory; he proceeded to discuss the several propositions that ought to be made for amending those relations; he turned one of them after the other, so to speak, inside out, and demonstrated its futility, and I listened with some interest to what was to come. But there the noble Earl disappointed me, for he 225 appeared to have nothing to propose. Now, I hope he will not consider me offensive if I say that I think it is rather a lame and impotent conclusion to propose to consolidate our great Colonies by what my noble Friend has said amounted to a universal college. I have had the honour of serving under the noble Earl when he was at the head of the Colonial Office, and I am sure that if anybody could discover a solution of the difficulty by which the question is beset the noble Earl would have done so while he presided over that Department. That the noble Earl was unable to do so is to my mind a sufficient argument to show that the views which I entertain on the subject, and which I am about to express, are correct. But, my Lords, before I proceed to give expression to those views I wish to be allowed to address myself for a moment to the military part of the question. The noble Earl quite accurately stated that the number of troops in Canada was increased very shortly after I came into office, and at my instance. Now, inasmuch as the application which I then made to the noble Earl might seem to be in contradiction to the opinions which I desire to lay before the House, I am anxious to be allowed to say a few words on that point. The application was made immediately after the well-known Fenian raid had occurred, and at a period when the events of the Prussian War had just demonstrated the utter inefficiency of muzzle as compared with breech-loading arms. The colonists entertained a notion that the Fenians were all armed with breech-loaders, and a considerable panic prevailed, and it was for the purpose of allaying this panic and restoring confidence, that after consultation with Sir John Michel, the Commander-in-Chief in Canada, that I applied to the noble Earl for that assistance which he so speedily and so willingly afforded. Such, however, was the effect produced in Canada by the news that additional troops were about to be sent out that I found myself, when the regiments reached the St. Lawrence, in a position to spare one of the regiments and send it to another Colony without landing. There was no inconsistency on my part, therefore, in having made the application to which the noble Earl referred, while I regard the withdrawal of the troops from the Colonies, as has been proposed 226 by the present Government, as a measure of sound policy, and the only one consistent with the proper re-organization of our military department. But, setting aside the military considerations connected with the subject, I am anxious to say a few words on the relations between ourselves and our Colonies. The noble Earl who introduced this Motion looks upon the state of those relations as not satisfactory. He was met by the noble Earl the Secretary of State, who regards it as eminently satisfactory, because the Colonies do not complain. "Small blame to them," to use a phrase common on my side of the Channel, if they do not complain, since they are allowed complete freedom in the management of their own affairs, and we allow them to tax our merchandise while we manage for them their diplomatic relations and protect them in time of war. If they were to complain under such circumstances they would, I think, be most unreasonable. But this kind of halcyon days will not last for ever. If some such question as the fishery question were to arise it might speedily be disturbed. The noble Earl's speech seemed to be founded on some such text as "an Empire on which the sun never sets." But was there a single word, I should like to know, in the speech of the noble Earl opposite to prove that it is the interest, either of the Colonies and of the mother Country, that the connection between them should always continue? On that point I should like to read to the House the opinion of one of the highest authorities on a question of the kind whom I have ever known—the late Sir George Lewis, who was not more remarkable for his large stores of acquired information than for his peculiarly judicial mind. Sir George Lewis, writing about thirty years ago on the Government of Dependencies, mentioned the different advantages which might accrue from the adoption of the dominant system by a nation over its Colonies. The first advantage, he said, was the raising of tribute; the second, assistance for naval and military purposes; the third, advantages of trade; fourth, facilities for emigration; fifth, transportation of convicts; and lastly, the glory of possessing dependencies. Sir George Lewis, however, went on to say—A nation derives no true glory from any possession which produces no assignable advantage 227 to itself or to other communities. If a country possesses a dependency from which it derives no public revenue, no military or naval strength, and no commercial advantages or facilities for emigration which it would not equally enjoy though the dependency were independent, such a possession cannot justly be called glorious.Now, the system on which the relations between the Colonies and the mother Country is at present based is, in my opinion, not less inconvenient to them than it is to ourselves. They no doubt deserve pecuniary advantages from the connection, but it is, I think, purchased at the expense of future evil consequences. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon) admits that it is quite possible a separation between us and our Colonies may occur. But if that event may occur in the future, is it not, I would ask, our bounden duty so to shape our policy that when the separation actually does come about the colonists shall be enabled to maintain themselves in a position of independency, and that it should be unaccompanied by any ill feeling on either side? As long as fair weather lasts we shall get on very well; but if a time should arrive when the Colonies take a different view of the connection from that of the home Government, that will arise which arose in the case of the United States. It is quite true that so long as the Colonies form a portion of the Empire we are bound to defend them in time of war; but there is a correlative disadvantage to them, because if they enjoy our protection in time of war they are always liable to the disadvantage arising from our entering into hostilities. I think I have shown upon authority which satisfied my mind that there is very little gain to this country from maintaining the connection with the Colonies, and I think I have also shown that there are some prospective disadvantages in maintaining the Imperial connection with them, will venture to read another passage from the same work of Sir George Lewis, which embodies the policy that ought, in my opinion, to be followed by this country with regard to its Colonies—If a dominant country understood the true nature of the advantages arising from the relation of supremacy and dependence to the related communities, it would voluntarily recognize the legal independence of such of its dependencies as were fit for independence: it would, by its political arrangements, study to prepare for independence those which were still unable to stand alone, and it would seek to promote colonization for the 228 purpose of extending its trade rather than its Empire, and without attempting to maintain the dependence of its Colonies beyond the time when they need its protection.It may be said undoubtedly that my argument rests solely on material considerations, and that I omit all considerations respecting that sentiment or affection towards England which I know, at all events, animates one of our great Colonies. My Lords, I have no such intention; I would wish to cultivate that sentiment and affection for Britain and Britain's interests to which allusion has been already made. And I do not think it was a poet's dream which was present to the mind of my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council when he stated that at some future and not distant period he hoped to see all the members of the great Anglo-Saxon race brought together into one union, connected not by compulsory ties but by those of common origin, community of sentiment, and identity of interests. That is the direction in which my aspirations also tend. But before you can bring about that state of things you must produce a slate of relations between the mother Country and the Colonies, clear, on the one hand, from any hereditary claim for protection, and, on the other, from any desire to control or rule. I believe—although more or less that policy has been disadvowed by the Government—the tendency of what they are doing is in that direction. That is my belief; it is for that reason that I give them my hearty support; and I hope that no opposition will induce them to depart from such a course.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I do not rise, my Lords, for the purpose of prolonging the controversy which has arisen between my noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon) and the noble Earl opposite. I merely wish to point out that my noble Friend, has, as it seems to me, entirely accomplished the object with which he brought this matter before the House. Because, whatever may be the opinions which we may individually hold on various points on which my noble Friend and the noble Earl opposite have expressed different ideas, he has succeeded in eliciting from the noble Earl, speaking as the head of the Colonial Department and as the representative of the Government in this House, a distinct and unequivocal declaration that whatever may have been 229 the reasons, either fiscal or military, which caused, and which very possibly—for I am not arguing that—may have justified, the withdrawal from Canada of the greater portion of the troops maintained there in time of peace—whatever those reasons may have been, the noble Earl has distinctly informed us that nothing that has been done or said by him should be held to weaken the obligation of honour and of duty under which this country lies to take its part in defence of the Colonies, if, unhappily, necessity should arise. Now, that is a statement on the part of the noble Earl which is, I think, an answer to any misapprehensions that may have arisen out-of-doors: and that some misapprehensions have arisen—perhaps from the casual and not well-considered utterances of eminent men—there cannot be a doubt. If no other result had followed from this discussion than eliciting that statement from the noble Earl, I think my noble Friend would have done good service in bringing forward this question. There is only one other remark I wish to make, and that has been partially anticipated by the noble Viscount who has just preceded me (Viscount Monck). I am inclined to agree with what was said by the noble Earl (Earl Granville) that, looking to the state of things that exist now, in a time of profound peace, the relations between the mother Country and the Colonies are not, on the whole, unsatisfactory. The Colonies, speaking generally, have nothing to complain of. They are entitled to look to us for naval and military protection, and at the same time we extend to them such absolute internal independence that, if they like to do so, they can protect their home industry against the admission of our manufactures, and to a great extent even exclude emigrants from this country. I do not think therefore that in the present state of things, or in any state of things like the present, much difficulty is likely to arise; but we have this to bear in mind, that we cannot expect a state of peace always to continue; and that the real difficulty will arise whenever it shall become our misfortune to be involved in hostilities. Take, for instance, the case of Australia. The ties between this country and Australia are undoubtedly strong enough to all appearance, and I believe strong enough in reality. But we know, never- 230 theless, that tinder present circumstances there is no strain whatever upon them. The strain would arise if we unfortunately became involved in some great European quarrel, and if, as the consequence of that quarrel, the Australian colonists found that their commerce was interrupted, that they were suffering heavy losses, and were obliged to put themselves in an attitude of defence, and all this on account of some dispute in Europe about which they neither knew nor cared. That is a state of things which, if it ever arises, may lead many of the colonists to take a view which they do not take now as to the greater advantages of a position of independence and of neutrality. That I look upon as being the danger of the future, the "rock ahead" as regards the maintenance of the Empire as a whole. I do not say that it is a state of things for which I have any remedy to propose, but it is at least something to see whence a danger is likely to arise, and not to be taken unprepared, as unfortunately has been very much an English habit of late in reference to many foreign and colonial questions.
§ LORD LYVEDEN
said, he could not share the surprise of the noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) that the Government did not introduce into the Speech from the Throne any special mention of the relations existing with the Colonies, and he could not help thinking that the noble Earl had been mistaken in supposing that the interest taken in colonial affairs was second only to that felt in the land question of Ireland. He believed that what interest had been of late manifested in colonial affairs chiefly arose from the fact that the noble Earl opposite, finding himself at a loss for that occupation and excitement which were so agreeable to him and so useful in political affairs, chose to write an able letter to The Times on the subject of the Colonies, and that another and still more energetic Earl, who sat on the cross-benches (Earl Grey), followed suit with a further letter. The Times newspaper, being in great distress for something to say during the Recess, took up the question and argued upon it; but the majority of readers, no doubt, threw away the paper, and said—"What a dull subject this!" or turned afresh to the land question of Ireland, or some other inviting topic. Not content, how- 231 ever, with writing to the papers, the noble Earl has let fall a shower of reproaches upon the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He was in some places accused of having written a letter which was "the perfection of official rudeness." That certainly was not the style by which that noble Earl was best known, and the question might fairly be asked—if the noble Earl's letters were the perfection of official rudeness, where were they to look for the perfection of official courtesy? He did not agree with the noble Earl who had just sat down (the Earl of Derby), that the debate had been a very useful one. Debates on colonial subjects which led to no practical result, and only drew from different speakers the expression of conflicting opinions, were, he thought, irritating to the Colonies. The noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) had said that there was nothing the Colonies disliked so much as indifference; but they certainty did not more like being told that the minds of statesmen in this country were unsettled as to political affairs—that one political party thought one thing, and that another thought quite differently—until, at last, the minds of the colonists became distracted, and were turned away from their natural allegiance to this country. As regarded the debate itself, he confessed that he had been rather disappointed. Like most other noble Lords, he had come down expecting to find that the two subjects uppermost in men's minds at the present moment in connection with any mention of the Colonies—that was to say, the subjects of New Zealand and emigration—would be discussed. But both these had been struck out from their consideration, and the debate had been conducted rather in the tone of a debating society than of a practical discussion befitting that Assembly. The noble Earl, no doubt, had made an interesting and instructive speech; but what result could follow from it? His noble Friend who followed (Earl Granville), could not be expected to lay down a policy to be observed by all the Colonies; but he had replied in a becoming spirit to the Motion, and he (Lord Lyveden) gave his cordial support to the course which his noble Friend had taken in this instance with increased pleasure, because he had been compelled, on some previous occasions, to differ from the policy of the Government. As to the impu- 232 tation that the noble Earl had written hastily to the Colonies, it was plainly his duty, on acceding to office, not to let a mail go out without announcing, in the clearest manner, his determination to give effect to what had been the intentions of the noble Duke (the Duke of Buckingham), his predecessor. With regard to the question of Canada, he could simply reecho the opinions of the noble Viscount (Viscount Monck) near him. Those opinions he had always entertained—even when he was in the Colonial Office, in 1841, when Ministries were overthrown on colonial questions. His opinion was that it was almost impossible to defend Canada, in which he was borne out by the opinion of Major Jervis, who reported to the Government in 1866. They might have troops there if they pleased, but British troops in Canada would only be an invitation to attack; for the United States would have no interest in attacking Canada unless they desired to insult us, and were prepared to go to war with us. He sincerely believed they were not so disposed; but the presence of our troops in Canada was rather a temptation to attack than a source of defence to the Colony. Once declare that Canada must defend itself, and they would hear no more of attacks upon that country. So also in New Zealand; there would be no difficulty in putting an end to the squabbles with the natives if the English troops were withdrawn. He did not go the length of saying that separation should be immediate. He thought any Minister who forced a separation would be most guilty and criminal; but, on the other hand, the Minister who did not look forward to separation as possible would be unwise and impolitic. When they talked of the value of these Colonies, they must recollect that Her Majesty's property in them had been given up—transportation had been abandoned, even grants of land could not be given without the consent of the Colonies. No property there belonged to us in the sense of control, alienation, or distribution. There was nothing that we could do in the Colonies without the consent of the Colonies, and which could not be done just as well without us as with us. The question of Canada was no new question. The noble Earl talked of the readiness of the Canadians to make sacrifices in the Imperial interest. Their 233 affection for this country was undeniable; but he must doubt their readiness to make what were called sacrifices when they would neither pay for our troops nor allow our goods to enter their ports duty free. He only hoped when the time for separation did come, we should part with them as friends and allies, and not, as with the United States, as enemies. He objected to the Motion of the noble Earl because, with all deference to him, there never was a time when there was less colonial controversy than at present; in fact, there was absolutely none.
Then Correspondence respecting a proposed conference of Colonial Representatives in London: Presented (by command), and ordered to lie on the Table.