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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/405

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COLONIES AND THE MOTHER COUNTRYII.

in a manner enlarged. The policy of the mother country is even now being modified by its colonies. "The paramount object in legislating for colonies should be the welfare of the parent state," frankly avows the law officer of the Dutch East India Company at the Cape of Good Hope, in 1779. The Ashburton Treaty and the Oregon Agreement were entered into as if England and the United States were alone interested in their provisions. Treaties are now concluded in the interests of the colonies. Treaties are 'denounced' in order to allow them freedom to tax foreign commodities. They are represented by commissioners, on an equal footing with those of Britain, at conferences preparatory to the conclusion of treaties, and colonial conferences are summoned in order that the general views of the colonies may be ascertained.

There is a more direct reaction, resembling the adoption by an admiring father of the sentiments and opinions of a son who is rising in the world. The Greek cities that had planted colonies imitated the republican institutions of these and deposed their kings. "The American colonists," says Bancroft, "founded their institutions on popular freedom and 'set an example to the nations.' Already the. . . Anglo-Saxon emigrants were the hope of the world." The filial free colonies of Britain are exerting an influence on the domestic policy of the father-land. An aged colonial ruler used to console himself for exclusion from the English Parliament by cherishing the belief that ideas and measures of his had passed into the public life of England. Kuch of this is mere hallucination; some of it is reality. The testimony of a sagacious and experienced statesman on this subject is decisive:

"To the influence of the American Union must be added that of the British colonies. The success of popular self-government in these thriving communities is reacting on political opinion at home with a force that no statesman neglects, and that is every day increasing. There is even a danger that the influence may go too far. They are solving some of our problems, but not under our conditions, and not in presence of the same difficulties. Still, the effect of colonial prosperity—a prosperity alike of admirable achievement and boundless promise—is irresistible. It imparts a freedom, an elasticity, an expansiveness, to English political notions, and gives our people a confidence in free institutions and popular government, which they would never have drawn from the most eloquent assumptions of speculative system-mongers, nor from any other source whatever, save practical experience carefully observed and rationally interpreted."

[1] The New Zealand system of local government is a model which Great Britain, at one time famous in that line, has not been ashamed to imitate; the English county councils have been molded on those of her colony. From the same colony the mother country borrowed her First Offenders' act. The restriction of electors to the exercise of a single vote—unimportant excepting in principle in populous England, but impor-


  1. Morley, 'Studies in Literature,' pp. 126-7.