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Is it not the height of folly to hand over the government of three-fourths of Ireland to a population in this state of mind? We agree entirely with the five Peers who, in a letter published in the papers on June 24, deprecated this course. What safeguard have we against the extremists gaining the upper hand in the new Irish Parliament, and using their power in a manner hostile to this country? The ways in which such a majority might injure Great Britain are many and so obvious that there is no need to insist on them. One in particular has already been pointed out. Is our fleet in future to regard Irish harbours as belonging to a friendly, a neutral, or a hostile country? What security shall we have against these harbours being used as bases for German submarines, or against the neighbouring seas being strewn with bombs laid by Irish fishermen ? Nor are we to consider ourselves alone. We have a sacred duty to our allies. What opinion will they conceive of an arrangement which, so far as common sense and all the signs of the times indicate, is all but certain to cause us grave embarrassment, and possibly worse, at a moment when all our forces should be thrown into the scale on behalf of the common cause. Mr Asquith's hasty indiscretions have so far prejudiced the situation that it is doubtless difficult to draw back. But the only possible justification for a new settlement is that it should be by universal consent. Such a consent has clearly not been attained. Here, then, is a way of escape from the impasse into which the Government have wantonly thrust themselves. Let them boldly state that, as Irishmen are not agreed, the only course open to them is to continue a firm government, on present lines, until the advent of peace makes the way clearer for a final settlement. In any case, we feel bound to deprecate, with all the force of conviction that can attach to any forecast of political consequences, the suicidal step of granting Home Rule, at this juncture, to Nationalist, hostile, and rebellious Ireland.
Art. 15.—THE ORGANISATION OF THE EMPIRE.
1. The Problem of the Commonwealth. Preface by L.
Curtis. Macmillan, 1916. 2. The Empire on the Anvil: being suggestions and data
for the future government of the British Empire. By
W. Basil Worsfold. Smith, Elder, 1916. 3. Imperial Unity aud the Dominions. By Arthur B.
Keith. Clarendon Press, 1916. The organisation of the Empire is regarded from different points of view and desired for different and sometimes antagonistic reasons by the peoples of its several parts. The Englishman, who lives in England, hopes for a lightening of his heavy taxes, when the Dominions shall bear their full share of the common burden of Imperial defence; while the citizens of the Dominions, on their side, think more of exercising some control over the Empire's foreign policy, which determines the issue of peace or war, than of calculating the responsibilities which this would bring in its train. A third section of the inhabitants, both of Great Britain and the Dominions -although it is diminishing in numbers and importance -either from indifference or because they disbelieve in the possibility of closer union upon terms which would be just to all portions of the Empire, are content with the existing loose relationship between its parts, and deprecate as dangerous all attempts to formulate a legal bond. A fourth section which, like Aaron's rod, may swallow up the others, refuses to admit that the Union of the Empire should be regarded as a question of profit and loss or depend upon a nice speculation as to the balance of gain. Lord Milner has expressed the ideals of this school in many passages of his collected speeches. “Imperial Unity,' he says in one placo, 'is not a question of shifting burdens but of developing new centres of strength. . . . I believe that, as the self-governing Dominions grow in power, they will feel a stronger desire to share in the responsibilities and the glory of Empire.' It is a high merit of Mr Curtis and Mr Worsfold, whose books are now under notice, that they approach the problem of Imperial Organisation from all these differing points of view, and that, having each taken part under Lord
Milner in the making of the Union of South Africa, they can appreciate its many difficulties.
Mr Curtis describes his Problem of the Commonwealth'* as an answer to the question, “How a British subject in the Dominions can acquire the same control of foreign policy as one domiciled in the British Isles ?” The makers of the Australian Commonwealth had in mind the same idea, when they adopted as one of the resolutions upon which their Constitution Act was founded, a statement that the contemplated Federal Union was designed to enlarge the powers of selfgovernment of the people of Australia. Such a conception involves a high ideal of citizenship, for which the world may not be ripe ; and therefore Mr Curtis, in his earlier chapters, appeals to history to prove that the sphere of patriotism has in fact extended with each expansion of British power. The loss of the American Colonies caused a temporary check, and in the opinion of contemporaries destroyed the Empire. A new idea, however-than which none of greater importance has appeared in the field of politics since Edward I, borrowing from the Church, applied the principle of representation to his Model Parliament'-saved the Empire from its anticipated dissolution. It became recognised gradually that the method of Empire was to distinguish between the local and general interest of the communities which compose it; and that, while the former may be put under the absolute control of local authorities, the latter are the concern of all the communities whose interests they affect. For Mr Curtis and his colleagues of The Round Table,' holding this view, the problem of Empire is to separate the local interests of Great Britain, the Dominions and the Colonies from the general, and to provide a machinery for a joint control of the latter, without interfering with local independence in respect of the former. Had this conception of local autonomy combined with association for common purposes been
* Mr Curtis uses the word 'Commonwealth' to express the conception of a Government which is controlled by the public opinion of its citizens, as opposed to the Eastern theocratic State. Its fundamental notion is that Society is at its best when it is able and free to adapt its own structure to conditions as they change, in accordance with its own experience of those conditions.'
grasped in the 18th century, the United States of America might be sharing with the British Empire to-day a common responsibility for the general peace of the world. The extension of the United States from the 13 original States to the 49 which now compose the Union is itself an example and a proof of the possibility and the wisdom of extending over a wide area the powers and burdens of a Commonwealth. Australia is not less like England, nor do its interests diverge further from those of the United Kingdom, than California is unlike New York or the interests of Missouri diverge from those of Pennsylvania. It is idle, however, to deplore the past. Enough if we recognise, with Mr Curtis, that 'the British Empire, as at present established, cannot endure unless it can realise its own character as a Commonwealth in time, by extending the burden and control of its supreme functions to every community which it recognises as fit for responsible government.'
The two-branched policy of local independence and joint responsibility for affairs of common interest, the recommendation of which is the theme of Mr Curtis and Mr Worsfold's volumes, has not yet been put in practice in its entirety. The theory of local autonomy has been applied with logical completeness; but no constitutional machinery has been devised for the cooperation of the Dominions, either inter se or with Great Britain, in respect of their external affairs. Temporary expedients, such as the Imperial Conference, have been improvised for the interchange of views between Prime Ministers; but there is no constitutional organ which can express with authority the voice of the Empire as a whole. The spirit of cooperation is strong; but, in the words of Sir George Foster,* 'it has not been mobilised so as to face the problems of Empire, trade, communications, defence and foreign policy, not by temporary expedients but with method, plans and foresight.' This restatement by a Canadian Minister of the historic policy of the Tory Party may be compared with Disraeli's utterance on the same subject in 1872: 'I do not object,' he said, 'to Colonial self-government; I cannot conceive how our distant Colonies can have their
* Interview in The Times,' June 11, 1916.
affairs administered except by self-government; but selfgovernment, in my opinion, ought to have been conceded as part of a great policy of Imperial consolidation.' *
Such views made no appeal to the then dominant middle class, who were inclined rather to agree with Cobden that the · Colonies were as great a burden as the National Debt, of which we shall be glad if any foreign country will relieve us.' | In the same spirit, Lord Dufferin, on his appointment as Governor-General of Canada, was advised by Robert Lowe to bring about the independence of that Dominion; and Lord Blachford, who as Permanent Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office presided over the destinies of the Empire for eleven years, declared in 1891 that no one but a fool could contemplate any other future for the Colonies than separation, which it had always been his policy to encourage and facilitate.
Until Prof. Keith's volumes on 'Responsible Government in the Dominions,' of which his present work may be regarded as a continuation, revealed to the profanum vulgus the secrets of the Colonial Office, few even of those who were directly concerned realised with what logical completeness this policy had been applied. Governors have been stripped of every attribute of the Prerogative except the power of granting a dissolution and of refusing assent to certain classes of Bills, which are designated in his instructions, such as Bills affecting the currency, or divorce, or treaty obligations, or any Bill of an extraordinary nature and importance, whereby the prerogative of the Crown, or the rights and privi. leges of British subjects not residing in the State, or the trade or shipping of the United Kingdom and its Dependencies may be prejudiced.' Nominally a Governor is Commander-in-Chief of the local forces, but he cannot move a soldier without the consent of his Ministers, who alone can give direction to the military authorities; nor could he refuse to confirm the sentence of a CourtMartial except on the same advice. As representing the King, he is the fountain of honour; but it is doubtful
* Quoted from Sichel's · Disraeli,' pp. 205-6.