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398

BRITISH

EMPIRE,

THE

In regard to the distribution of existing industry, although the more important Colonies have established manufactures of their own, of which the prosperity _ is assured, the general conditions have hitherto been maintained under which Great Britain has remained the manufacturing centre for the raw material of the whole. The primary production of the Colonies and the industrial development of Great Britain are still, therefore, the important divisions of the subject. These subjects are dealt with elsewhere in detail. It is not too much to say that trade has been at once the most active cause of expansion and the most potent bond of union in the development of the empire. Trade with the tropical and settlement in the temperate regions of the world formed the basis upon which the foundations of the empire were laid. Trading companies founded most of the American and West Indian colonies , a tiading company won India; a trading company colonized the north-western districts of Canada ; commercial wars during the greater part of the 18th century established the British command of the sea, which rendered the settlement of Australasia possible. The same wars gave Great Britain South Africa, and chartered companies in the 19th century carried the British flag into the interior of the African continent from south and east and west. Trading comcontinental areas during the 19th century, the progress of panies produced Borneo and Fiji. The bonds of prosindustrial science in application to means of transport and perous trade have kept the Australasian colonies w ithin communication brought about a revolution of_ the most the empire. The protection of colonial commerce by the radical character in the accepted laws of economic develop- Imperial navy is one of the strongest of material links ment. Railways did away with the old law that the which connect the Crown with the outlying possessions of spread of civilization is necessarily governed by facilities for the empire. The trade of the empire, like the other developments of water carriage and is consequently confined to river valle) s and sea-shores. Steam and electricity opened to industiy Imperial public life, has been profoundly influenced by the the interior of continents previously regarded as unapproach- variety of local conditions under which it has flourished. able. The resources of these vast inland spaces which have In the early settlement of the North American colonies trade was left practically free; but by the famous lain untouched since history began became available to in- their Navigation Act of 1660 the importation and exportation dividual enterprise, and over a great portion of the earth s surface were brought within the possessions of the British of goods from British colonies were restricted to British of which the master and three-fourths of the mariners empire. The production of raw material within the ships, were’English. This Act, of which the intention was to empire increased at a rate which can only be appreciated encourage British shipping and to keep the monopoly of by a careful study of figures, some of which will be British colonial trade for the benefit of British merchants, found under the headings of the United Kingdom and the principal British colonies and dependencies, and by a com- was followed by many others of a similar nature up to the of the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 and the parison of the total of these figures with the total figures time introduction of free trade into Great Britain. And the of the world. The tropical and temperate possessions of Navigation Acts were repealed in 1849. Thus for ier> the empire include every field of production which can be two hundred years British trade was subject to required for the use of man. There is no main staple of nearly restrictions, of which the avowed intention was to curtail human food which is not grown ; there is no material of textile industry which is not produced. The British empire the commercial intercourse of the empire with the world. gives occupation to more than one-third of the persons During this period the commercial or mercantile system, employed in mining and quarrying in the world. It may of which the fallacies were exposed by the economists of be interesting, as an indication of the relative position in the latter half of the 18th century, continued to govern principles of British trade. Under this system monothis respect of the British empire to the world, to state the were common, and among them few were more that at present it produces one-third of the coal-supply of polies important than that of the East India Company. In 8 ’ the world, one-sixth of the wheat supply, and very nearly two-thirds of the gold supply. But while these figures the trade of India was, however, thrown open to competiand in 1846, after the introduction of free trade at may be taken as in themselves satisfactory, it is far more tion, home, the principal British colonies which had not yet at important to remember that as yet the potential resources that date received the grant of responsible government of the new lands opened to enterprise have been barely were specially empowered to abolish differential duties upon conceived, and their wealth has been little more than scratched. Population as yet has been only very sparsely foreign trade. A first result of the commercial emancipation the Colonies was the not altogether unnatural rise in the sprinkled over the surface of many of the areas most of manufacturing centres of a school known as the an suitable for white settlement. In the wheat lands of Chester school, which was disposed to question the value Canada, the pastoral country of Australasia, and the to Great Britain of the retention of colonies which were mineral fields of South Africa and Western Canada alone, no longer bound to give her the monopoly of their comthe undeveloped resources are such as to insure employ- mercial markets. An equally natural desire on the part ment to the labour and satisfaction to the needs ot at of the larger colonies to profit by the opportunity whicli least as many millions as they now contain thousands ot was opened to them of establishing local manufactures ol the British race. In respect of this promise ot the tuture their own, combined with the convenience in new countries the position of the British empire is unique.

was afforded by the support given to the Imperial forces by the Colonies and India in the South African war. It remains only to be seen by what process of evolution the further consolidation of the empire will find expression in the machinery of government. The question of self-government is closely associated with the question of self-support. Plenty of good land and the liberty to manage their own affairs were the causes assigned by Adam Smith for the marked prosperity of the British Colonies towards the end of the 18th century. The same causes are still to be observed to produce the same effects, and it may be pointed out that since the date of the latest of Adam Smith s writings, upwards of 6,000,000 square miles of virgin soil, rich with possibilities of agricultural, pastoral, and mineral wealth, have been added to the empire. In the same period the white population has grown from about 12,000,000 to 52,000,000, and the developments of agricultural and industrial machinery have multiplied, almost beyond computation, the powers of productive labour. It is scarcely possible within this article to deal with so widely varied a subject as that of the productions and industry of the empire. For the purposes of a Ind try statement,with it is observe an ^ra de general concurrently theinteresting acquisition to of the vast