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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/152

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

must be followed, among animals as among men, by effective occupation. The Portuguese were roused into warlike excitement a few years ago by the advance of the Chartered Company into Mashonaland, where their settlements had long ceased to exist. Their claims to the basin of the Congo were on the same ground equally disregarded—this time by all the powers. A bit of seacoast can more easily be kept, and Delagoa Bay was assured to them by the French arbitrator. Mere occupation has at various times given a valid right to a territory. The Puritans found several islands off the New England coast to be destitute of inhabitants, and the shores so thinned of Indians by an epidemic as to be practically uninhabited. Yet they were careful to assure their title by purchase. The Manowolko Islands of the Malay Archipelago were without indigenes when the first settlers arrived. Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands were found by the mutineers of the Bounty and the convicts from New South Wales to answer to Defoe's notion of a desert island. The first English settlers in Australia and the first French settlers in New Caledonia met with no resistance from the blacks at the initial stages of occupation. When the Boers trekked across the Vaal they entered on a country that had been left, through exterminating native wars, to the beasts of the field and the forest. The situation is very different when a rival civilized power lays claims to the territory. When Great Britain forcibly took possession of West Griqualand in 1871 she had to salve, without satisfying, the claims of the Orange Free State to one of the richest diamond fields in the world by a payment differently stated at £90,000 and over £100,000. Having to deal with a European power, she was constrained to submit to arbitration her pretensions to the so very useful and convenient Delagoa Bay. In attempting to extend British Guiana, so as to gain command of the Orinoco, she came into collision with the mightiest of American peoples, which now guards the interests of all the others. The United States refused to acknowledge the doctrine of 'squatter sovereignty,' and one of the preliminaries of the Venezuela arbitration was the addition to international law of the rule that a period of fifty years' uninterrupted occupancy was required to constitute valid sovereignty. England has gone through the world, like Sir Tantalus's man with his iron flail, beating down the weak and robbing the helpless. Yet few countries can show an equal record of honorable renunciations. It long refused to annex New Zealand, now one of the finest of its colonies. It long refused Fiji and Natal. It refused Samoa. It refused Bechuanaland for a time. It refused Angra Pequena. It would not listen to the discoverer who called on it to occupy equatorial Africa. It disavowed the action of Queensland in annexing New Guinea. It surrendered the Ionian Islands. Its constant injunction to its high commissioner in South Africa was not to advance the line of con-