Open main menu

Popular Science Monthly/Volume 53/July 1898/The Evolution of Colonies: The Genesis of Colonies I





JULY, 1898.


NOWHERE is the analogy between the individual and the society more applicable than at the beginnings of both. Though, as research advances, it will probably be found instructive at the very summit of the scale,[1] it is most illuminative at the base, where the individual and social organisms are often indistinguishable. It is then perceived to be an identity which binds together two widely separated provinces of knowledge. So close is the parallelism in the lower ranges that biological statements have only to be translated into sociological terms. The genesis of individuals is the key to the genesis of societies, and of those special societies named colonies. The biology of reproduction is the foundation of what may be styled coloniology.

Reproduction in its earliest or sexless form is discontinuous growth. Species can be arranged in an ascending series so as to exhibit an insensible transition from mere expansion of the parent mass to the budding off of new individuals. In certain species, like the sponge, the two processes are identical, and no true line of division can be drawn.

Colonization is the national mode of self-reproduction, and here again extension and multiplication are inseparable. Continuous population, remarks Grote, was not the law of the ancient world. A Greek city-state did not grow by expansion, as a modern state does; it grew only by multiplication. It did not annex adjacent territory; it planted a colony. The coast of Asia Minor was colonized from the Greek mainland and the islands of the archipelago; the whole country would nowadays be annexed by a conquering power as the spoil of a single battle and permanently occupied; but it was successively settled by twelve Ionic and twelve Æolic colonies, each of them independent, with conterminous territories. A Greek colony grew in the same way. Naxos or Syracuse, on the Sicilian coast, might, either of them, have annexed the strip of territory between them; they colonized it. A Greek city, like a hydra, was incapable of expanding beyond a certain point; when that point was reached the mass broke and gave birth to a new city. Greece seems never to have got beyond the city stage of national development. Roman colonies were at first of the same character. They were planted in conquered territory, to hold it for Rome, and had a certain independence; as the intervening space between Rome and the colony was occupied by Roman citizens, the colony became continuous with the city and formed part of an undivided empire. So does every nation advance over its own territory. Each new clearing in the surrounding forest is the seat of a colony. The trapper and fur trader of the early days in North America were continually founding stations ever farther in the interior, which proved the nuclei of fresh settlement. The pioneer squatter of Australia is still moving into untrodden regions. Such colonies are like grasses, which are sown by the wind in a myriad separate plants, but become contiguous and form the carpeted turf. As reproduction is discontinuous growth, colonization is discontinuous expansion.

Growth is everywhere limited by the constitution of the organism; beyond a certain size the mass of cells can not be governed from a common center. The limit attained, the augmentation takes on the form and structure of the parent, and, thinning away at the point of junction, a new individual is launched into space. This is the form of reproduction proper to the lower half of organic creation—to invertebrate animals and the more lowly forms of plants. It is nonsexual, for it is produced neither by sexual individuals nor by separate sexual organs in the same individual, nor by the union of differentiated cells. It takes place in unicellular organisms, like the protozoa, by the rupture of the unit mass of protoplasm. Higher species, like sponges or hydras, protrude buds at any point or all round, which often remain connected with' the parent. Or there may be an outflow at a single point successively repeated. The bud may be of all sizes, but is usually less than the parent; in rare cases it is equally large.

The earliest forms of colonization answer in all respects to asexual reproduction. The Phœnician and Greek cities were units; they were social protozoa. When colonization took place, the city split "by natural fracture" (the words are Grote's) into two or more cities, each an autonomous and separate unit, as Phocæa sent nearly one half of its citizens to Sardinia. Or a city gave birth to a number of cities, as Andros (itself a colony of Eretria) to Samê, Akanthus, Stageira, and Argilus. Sometimes even Greek and Phœnician colonies (celebrated for their independence) remained connected with the mother city, as when Sybaris ruled over twenty-five dependent towns, and Carthage welded three hundred communities into her wide commercial empire. Often the reproduction was concentrated into a single extrusion or overflow, as when Thera colonized Gyrene. Most of the colonies were smaller than the metropolis, but Sybaris and Carthage must have greatly exceeded the parent states.

The Roman colonies were of higher structure. They may be described as midway between the city type of colony and the national type. The earliest were hived off from the mother city and acquired some of the civic character that she retained all through her history till she was nationalized in 1870. They may be compared, like certain of the Greek colonial groups, to the progeny that surrounds a zoöphyte and 'remains in asexual continuity with it; but, though they long retained a certain independence, they showed that they belonged to a higher type by being ultimately incorporated with the Roman Empire.

The earliest modern colonies, with a still higher potentiality of future development, had the same asexual character as the earliest Phœnician, Greek, and Roman colonies. They were the spontaneous offshoots of the mother country, and they were of low organization. The whole asexual or unorganized division may be classified in five or six groups.

The pioneers of colonization were pirates and marauders, fishermen and navigators, hunters and traders, explorers and discoverers, missionaries, runaways, adventurers, and convicts. It would be impossible to make a tripos of these very miscellaneous groups, or arrange them in the order of time or importance. As the exterior cells of a floating organism push outward at one or more points in search of food, many, perhaps most, colonies have their beginnings in the spontaneous efforts of independent sections of a community, situated on or near its boundaries, which extend to ever more distant parts their exertions in search of a livelihood. It is easier to rob others than to procure spoil or food where they found or reared it, and so privateers and marauding adventurers may have preceded fishermen and hunters. The earliest Greek and Roman colonies seem to have been founded by just such bands. The Spanish and Portuguese colonies of South America were hardly more exalted in their origin. The Dutch East Indies were colonized by a band of landless resolutes from the Texel—disorderly youths (says the old chronicler), "whose absence was more desired" there "than their presence." The gentlemen adventurers who founded Acadia, like the two La Tours, the renegade Frenchmen (like De Castin and his half-breed son) and the forest rangers who "blazed the track" in Canada for future settlers, Kipling's "gentlemen rovers" and "lost legion," Mr. Cecil Rhodes himself, when he seized Matabeleland, are types of this class. The Jamieson raid was only the last of the daring burglaries by which ancient and modern colonial empires have been built up."[2]

The toilers who reap the harvest of the sea, half savage as they have always been and often still are, have at least more honest ways. It was mariners from Biscay, and Guipuzcoa, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, who sailed down the African coast as far as the Canaries and led the modern colonizing movement. Basque, Breton, and Norman fishermen were the first authentic visitors to the New World, and they were soon followed by fishermen from the west of England. They did not at first settle. Like the whalers and the Labrador fishermen of to-day, they went home as soon as they had filled their barks, returning each successive season. Their next step was to establish headquarters, as the Newfoundland fishermen at St. John's. Finally, they came for good, as did the English fishermen who settled on the Plymouth coast. Newfoundland may be described as the fishing colony par excellence. Few of the ancient colonies had a similar origin, but the five Greek colonies in the Gulf of Tarentum, together with Cumæ and famous Byzantium, may partly have so begun.

The establishment of commercial relations with indigenous peoples has been at the foundation of a much larger number of colonies. Commerce possibly arose out of fishing. As may still be observed on any seacoast, fishing vessels were converted into merchant ships and fishermen differentiated into seamen, some of whom were specialized into merchants. The first ships were also shops. The poet of the Odyssey describes a Phænician ship as lying for a whole year off a port in the Grecian archipelago, engaged in constant traffic with the natives, and only departing when she had sold her entire cargo and taken a fresh one on board. Cutters laden with cheap drapery still coast along thinly populated countries, running up rivers and creeks and disposing of their merchandise to visitors conveyed to them in boats. The next step was to establish a warehouse on shore. In the early days of Australia sea captains brought out adventure cargoes, and on the second or third trip they landed their merchandise and sold it in shops which they built or hired. Just in this way we imagine the bold navigators of Phœnicia and Carthage to have traversed the Mediterranean, and, carrying their own wares to distant parts, received in exchange the products of foreign countries. As the trade grew, they left agents in charge of their warehouses who became the nucleus of a colony, as to-day Greeks or Germans settle in Liverpool or Adelaide and form a quasi-colony. The coasts of Sicily, Italy, and Greece, Africa and Spain, Gaul and Britain were thus dotted with commercial establishments, The Tyrian settlements are said not to have advanced beyond the stage of factories; yet Cadiz, the oldest city in western Europe, is of Tyrian foundation. The Carthaginians aimed at conquest as well as trade, welded some three hundred communities into an empire, maintained an army in Iberia, and fought for supremacy with the future mistress of the world. Yet neither were their settlements always colonies, and when the Greeks threatened to supplant them in Sicily they abandoned their outposts and concentrated themselves in a few principal points. The colonies of the most intellectual nation in the world were, nine tenths of them, commercial in their origin; the ancient Greeks were "a nation of shopkeepers." They unscrupulously seized an island adjoining the mainland, an isthmus or headland that could be easily fortified and defended, and there established a seaport, commanding a monopoly of trade with the natives. The Ionian settlements on the coast of Asia Minor answered to this description, and most of them had this origin. The coasts of Thrace, the Propontis, and the Black Sea were dotted with such merchant colonies. Calabria and Sicily were almost Hellenized. In far-away Marseilles and at the mouth of the Rhône were laid the foundations of two great mercantile cities. After the conquest of Britain a stream of Roman merchants and artisans poured themselves over the new field, and a number of towns—London, Bath, St. Albans—were formed as "the new result of freedom of traffic and immigration." The whole ancient world, which we think of as devoted to war and conquest, addicted to religious rites, absorbed in political struggles, or producing and enjoying immortal works of literature and art, had its existence based on industry and commerce, as the existence of the individual is based on hunger.

The modern world has been built up on the same foundation; The Venetians continued the eastern trade of the Roman Empire, and everywhere in the Levant left colonies. Portugal and Spain, with their ports opening on the Atlantic and inviting to discovery. were the first to take the colonial field. The invention of the astrolabe and the discovery of the magnet made distant voyages practicable. All through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries they stretched ever farther the scope of their trade till they had annexed the Atlantic islands, begun settlement at the southern cape, and laid the foundations of those colonies their shadowy claims to which (in Mashonaland) for some time resisted, a few years ago, the more invincible assertion of British armed occupation. Columbus's great voyage of discovery was but an extension of shorter trading voyages, and one of his three ships was equipped by merchants. Dutch colonies were still more an extension of Dutch commerce; they were planted mainly under the auspices of chartered companies, and while Spanish and French colonizers threw a glamour of religion over their undertakings, and Swedish and English colonies were often largely philanthropical, trade has ever been the chief, almost the sole, object of Dutch colonization. The West India Company founded New York, which was for years no more than a place of meeting where fur traders exchanged European commodities for skins, and the commercial agent of the company was its first governor. Canada was won for civilization by the same agency. Cartier's second expedition, which gave Canada to France, De Monts's and Champlain's were fitted out, in whole or part, by Breton merchants of St. Malo. Even the French Company of the Hundred Associates, which set the seal on the colonization of Canada and had Richelieu and princes of the blood for figureheads, was financed by merchants. Companies of the East Indies and the West, of the North, the Levant, and Senegal were formed in France in rivalry of those in England and Holland. The commercial conquest of Algeria and Madagascar was attempted by such companies two centuries before it was finally accomplished. But the tale of the foundation of colonies by commerce would be too long to tell. Not only the origin but the extension of colonial possessions are the work of commercial enterprise. Africa is at this day being colonized by chartered companies. Governments are deliberately colonizing and annexing to create markets. "Trade follow? the flag," says Lord Salisbury. The French admit that no Platonic views but the need of openings for trade lies behind their late-born colonizing ambition; and Señor Canovas del Castillo avowed that Spain is making desperate efforts to keep Cuba and the Philippines not only for historical and sentimental reasons, but as Spain's last markets. What needs to be noted here is that the commercial colony, like the adventurers' and the fisheries colonies, is at first mainly asexual. The merchants who engineer them do not themselves go out to them; the traders do not at first permanently settle; there are few women, and few children are born. Not out of such beginnings will a sound colony grow; not out of such materials can a normal society be built up. Commerce alone can not generate a true colony.

The traders desert the coast, and the more daring become hunters and trappers like the natives. This pioneer form of colonization is best seen in the coureurs de bois of old Canada—bold, adventurous men who had broken away from the restraints of civilization and plunged into the free life of the forest. They intermarried with Indian women, and their half-breed sons formed the personnel of the companies which controlled the fur trade for two centuries. Their meeting places with the Indian trappers were scenes of drunkenness and debauchery which threw the missionaries into despair. They jealously guarded their game preserves against the approaches of settlement. It was a degraded type of civilization, and, though it was the base, it was never the root of Canadian society. Not out of it could a true colony spring.

The big-game hunters of old days were men of a similar type, and were at least the beginners of the French colony of Louisiana. The big-game hunter of to-day is an Englishman or a Frenchman in whom the instincts of the savage periodically break out under a polished surface. One of the best specimens of the race, Mr Selous, claims that such men rank with missionaries as pioneers. The biggame hunters, he contends, opened up Rhodesia. The hunters of gorillas in the south and of lions in the north of Africa have been the precursors of settlement. But they have seldom themselves settled in the country they roamed over, and left few descendants to inherit their strength and courage.

Often associating with the hunters and trappers and merchants, and sometimes (like Joliet, the discoverer of the Mississippi) differentiating from them, are the explorers. An adventurous race, who traverse continents while the hunters scour kingdoms, the Ibervillcs and La Salles, the Stanleys and the host of African and other travelers are the indispensable forerunners of annexation. Baker and Speke and Grant almost compelled the English occupation of Egypt. European travelers of many nationalities led inevitably to the wholesale partition of the Dark Continent. Missionaries sometimes accompany them, as Marquette did Joliet, or they sacrifice, like Livingstone, their own high calling to the broader vocation of the explorer; or they follow in his track, as three hundred missionaries arrived in the wake of Stanley's explorations; or, themselves the first explorers, they found villages, as the Jesuits did all over Canada and in Illinois and Michigan, some of them to become centers of colonization or great cities like Montreal; or they occupy and administer wide territories like Paraguay; or they pioneer civilized settlement, as in Algeria and Madagascar, throughout the south seas and the far East. Sometimes, it must be sadly confessed, they make settlement practicable by emasculating the natives, as the Jesuits the Hurons and English missionaries the Maoris. But none of these classes are by themselves colonizers. They do not permanently settle, and the missionaries are as jealous as the fur traders of the advance of European occupation. Many of them, in North America and New Zealand, have advocated and encouraged the most fatal of all measures to a true colony—the formation of a race of half-breeds.

Hunting passes into pastoral pursuits by the domestication of the animals captured, as slavery arises out of war. The Greek colony of Cyrênê and its offshoots, Barka and Hesperides, were stock colonies; but the first settlers being exclusively men, they intermarried with the natives, and the true colonization dates from a later settlement of both sexes. The drovers of reindeer and the pastoralists of the Alps are in like manner male groups. Cattle-breeding northern Australia is still in the polyandrous condition of having ten men to one woman, and that was probably near the ratio of the sexes in the early days of the country. It is apparently the same on the estancias of Brazil, and Darwin states that "these Spanish colonies do not carry within themselves the elements of growth." Yet they lay the foundations for normal societies. What Bancroft says of the herdsmen of Carolina is true of all countries: they are "the pioneers of colonization in the wilderness." Sheep colonies, like New South Wales, are a stage nearer complete self-propagating societies than cattle colonies like Queensland. Shepherds and shearers are long semi-nomadic, and the squatter is sometimes the only family man; but villages grow up at the confluence of grazing runs to supply necessaries, shoe horses, build and repair, bait and accommodate. The "station" and its lord may be the true social nucleus, but expansion arises from the village with its families and rudimentary industrial organization.

The most advanced and most potent of all the pioneer types of colony alone remains to be mentioned. The mining colony is not a modern invention. Phœnician Cadiz and Græco-Italian Cumæ were, the one commercial and the other agricultural as well. But Athenian Amphipolis, with its auriferous and argentiferous mountains, must have been settled for its mines, and barren Thasos, like the adjacent Thracian mainland, must have been colonized by the Phoenicians, as afterward by the Greeks, for its gold mines alone. Gold discoveries on a great scale are nevertheless modern and characterize two of the three great epochs of colonization. The South American exodus of the sixteenth century and the Australian and African rushes of the nineteenth have this feature in common that they had in themselves no principle of expansion. The mining settlement is a mechanical formation and not an organic growth. Its rise has been too often observed to need description. A lucky prospector finds a gold-or silver-bearing reef, possibly in a district indicated by a geologist, who is thus also a pioneer. The news spreads like the cry of fire. From the adjacent colonies and distant countries a mob of adventurers and old gold diggers crowd in and clamor for concessions. The field is soon white with tents, huts spring up as by magic, a "store" is set up, a hotel follows or precedes, and in a few weeks a wild-cat township comes into existence. It grows with the growth of the "diggings," and declines with them. When they are exhausted, the fortuitous concourse of its inhabitants scatter as swiftly as they came, and the township leads a death-in life existence on the tailings; or, if the country is favorable, the solider portion of the miners take to agriculture or industry, and the town becomes a manufacturing or distributing center. Denver, Ballarat, and Johannisburg are types of the miner's camp turned into flourishing cities. South America was founded as a series of gold and silver colonies, and saltpeter has lately established an English colony in Bolivia. The gold discoveries of 1851 "precipitated Australia into a nation." In still more recent days silver has generated several of the Western States and built up a great political party. Within the last decade gold has transformed a scattered population of farmers and big-game hunters in South Africa into a warlike republic. The j)recious metals thus start colonies, or give them an impulse when founded. They may even change their base. A pastoral and agricultural country, like Victoria, may be converted into a commercial and industrial country. Other results are more questionable. Population is attracted, but it is disorderly and without cohesion, and state industries have to be created for the support of the multitudes whom the exhaustion of the mines has thrown out of employment. Hence arise huge loans and oppressive debts, protective duties, overgrown cities and plethoric communities, where the brain is overfed and the extremities are starved.

These are, roughly outlined, the pioneer types of settlement that constitute the first chapter in the history of all colonies and countries. They have been assimilated to the asexual method of reproduction because they belong to a low grade of organization. They are initiated mainly by men; they do not, taken singly or all together, form a perfect social organism or a self-subsisting society; and they are incapable of a prolonged existence.


Asexual passes into sexual reproduction by a series of gradual transitions that are no longer a mystery; they have been well discriminated by Professor Le Conte. The mechanical rupture of simple organisms is followed by budding on any part, that by budding on a special part, that by the formation of an internal organ, which in a still more advanced stage generates at once male and female cells; differentiated sexual elements are next produced by independent sexual organs, which are ultimately assigned to separate individuals. Asexuality passes through bisexuality into unisexuality.

If the analogy between the individual and the society is much more than an analogy; if it is an identity; if social processes are but a continuation and expansion of animal processes, every one of these transitions should find its counterpart in the genesis of colonies. Coloniology, however, is itself still in the pioneer stage and must be content with hinting at resemblances that future Le Contes will demonstrate. The fission of unicellular organisms is paralleled by the "natural fracture" of Greek and Phœnician urban states. Gemmation at any point finds its analogue in the way by which continental countries plant colonies, or colonies plant fresh colonies, in contiguous territory. Specialized gemmation may have its parallel in the limitation of emigration from maritime countries to certain ports. Internal gemmation may take place in societies when emigration is engineered from within, and the internal bud becomes a sexual organ when emigration agencies are formed. The dominating races—the last conquering immigrants—in any country are the male elements; the subjugated races are the female; emigrants at first are chiefly of the former, but the latter ultimately join the stream. Lastly, when England sends to the United States its enterprising and Germany its revolutionary citizens, while Celtic Ireland sends, doubtless with many of a different sort, its pick-and-shovel man and its serving woman, there is an approach to the marriage of nations. State union, indeed, for the purpose of propagation took place in very early times. Three Phœnician cities jointly founded a third, where, however, the three colonies led a semi-independent existence side by side. Many Greek colonies were established by two mother cities; but all of these were of the same stock, and their association rather resembled the conjugation of infusorians. Had Corinth (of the masculine Doric race) joined Ionian Miletus in colonizing Sicily, it would have been a true sexual union.

The acquisition of the secondary sexual attributes by peoples will, no doubt, be yet shown to follow a parallel course to their acquisition by the individual. The lowest races seem to be everywhere sexless. The Australians and Fuegians and Veddahs exhibit no masculine qualities; they are not conquering, inventive, progressive. Among the Red Indians we may observe the beginnings of differentiation: the Iroquois and the Hurons subjugated other tribes, and one such defeated tribe was condemned to be called "women." Both of these peoples, again, voluntarily or not, became females to the invading English and French. The French are still males to the Arabs and Malagasy; they were lately males to the Alsacians and Lorrainers, whom they so impregnated with their civilization that the Germans can only re-Germanize their own countrymen by recolonizing the two provinces. Can a nation lose its sex? Prince Bismarck, who is a noumenalist among statesmen and goes to the root of the matter, as another retired statesman is content with exploring a wide surface, describes the Celts and Slavonians as feminine, while the Germans and English are masculine. Were the French conquering and creative while they were still led by a Teutonic aristocracy; and is it because they deposed their rulers in 1789 and 1830, and allowed the Celtic substratum to come to the surface, that they have lost the leadership of Europe in war, science, and philosophy? Did Spain cut her spermatic nerve, so to speak, when she killed off her Protestants and freethinkers? If it was so, we might describe national sex as being produced by the emergence, commonly the immigration, of a conquering class or race. The effects are very different in different cases. The Hindus imposed their government, language, and religion on the races of India; the Hellenes on the Pelasgians. The Goths and Germans imposed their government and laws on the Iberians and Celts, accepting the language and religion of the indigenes, which, however, were those of Rome. A race may thus be at once male and female, as France receives her militarism and her music from Germany, while she communicates her plastic and literary art. All existing and extinct civilized peoples are or have been bisexual. By the adventurous male elements in them they found pioneer colonies (those of our first or asexual division, which might perhaps have been called male colonies, like certain low organisms). By male and female elements together they build up and organize the higher colonial groups belonging to the second or quasi-sexual division, in which each colony is a more or less complete reproduction of the mother country, and is therefore capable of self-subsistence. Here, again, as in the first, the arrangement is a compromise between the logical and chronological order.

1. It may seem an abuse of language or an error in classification to place convict colonies in this division. The foundation of such settlements might rather be considered the expulsion of feculent matter from the social organism than the planting of the healthy germs of a new national life. Yet low as it is—far lower than the higher groups of the pioneer division—the convict colony bears within it the potentiality of complete development. Crime, unhappily, is confined to no class. A convict ship, therefore, carries out to new lands representatives of most of the ranks, professions, and occupations that go to make up a complete society. Time being given—and a long time, for its growth is abnormally slow—it will develop, if only into the apelike caricature of the country that gave it birth. Colonies that have a convict origin, or have at different stages been inoculated with convictism, are numerous. A number of Greek and Eastern communities seem to have had no better beginnings. The depopulated town of Dymê, in Achaia, was settled by Pompey with pirates. A robber chief reconstructed on the Galatian frontier the decayed town afterward named Juliopolis. Five of the Ægean islands were Greek penal settlements. A portion of the bands that invaded England were pirates; the aristocratic and hygienic Isle of Wight was made by the Jutes a voluntary convict settlement. After the failure of Hispaniola, Columbus had partly to content himself on his third voyage, as on his first, with prisoners respited from the gallows. Brazil was at first a penal settlement, and it was afterward re-enforced by a very superior kind of "convicts"—the victims of the Inquisition. The equipment of the early expeditions to Canada was of like kidney. Roberval was granted permission to ransack the prisons and take thence thieves, homicides, and fradulent debtors. "Banished men and the usual complement of villains" made up De Monts's expedition. "Scoundrels of the deepest dye" crowded to Laudonnière's standard. Captain John Smith's company consisted in part of felons and vagabonds. Eighty convicts were among the first French colonists of Louisiana. All through the seventeenth century "Newgate birds" were shipped to North America, especially to Maryland and Virginia. North Carolina, like ancient Home, was "the sanctuary of runaways." It somewhat moderates our admiration of the nobly conceived project of Gustavus Adolphus to find that the Swedish settlement on the Delaware was designed in part as a penal colony. But it was toward the end of the last century and in the first half of this that penal colonies were established on a colossal scale. For the long period of fifty-two years (1788-1840) New South Wales was the recipient of every variety of convicted felon—some fifty thousand being dispatched to it from first to last. In 1803 some of the more incorrigible specimens were selected and sent to Van Diemen's Land, which continued to receive them for half a century. Twenty-one years later the same abandoned classes were shipped to the colony afterward named Queensland, but only for eighteen years. A more appalling origin for a colony can not be imagined, and the tragic page of history is blackened by no more sickening horrors than deface the early annals of Australia. Yet so little were the consequences of the transportation system dreaded that West Australia, where golden Coolgardie had not yet been discovered, petitioned to share in the indirect benefits of it, and was a convict settlement from 1850 to 1868. A sanguine speculator only ten years ago proposed to colonize the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand with the sweepings of English jails and workhouses. It must be admitted that the apparent results go far to confound the criminologist; more law-abiding communities than these do not exist. What miracle has been wrought to bring wheat from tares and grapes from thistles? It is not enough to say that the flood of immigration to the gold fields has swamped the penal elements. Tasmania has had little gold and but few immigrants, yet Tasmania is as respectable as New South Wales. The self-destroying power of evil will account for the disappearance of much: there were always more men than women, and many of the women were barren, as is usual when both sexes are profligate; there were usually few children, and the convicts were not long-lived. On those that survived, and on their offspring, social influences were immensely powerful. As the chemistry of the earth (in Whitman's poem) absorbs the products of putrefaction and decay, and gives them back as luxuriant vegetation, the higher chemistry of an orderly and moralized society assimilates all that is good in disease and crime by utilizing the criminal and repressing and ultimately extirpating his antisocial impulses. These admissions being made, an irreducible residuum remains. The."white trash" of the Southern States has long been affiliated on the transported English prisoners of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Mr. Eggleston finds further traces of them in the "hereditarily pauper and criminal classes" of the North. Professor Fiske has come upon the tracks of the "mean white" in "little isolated groups of wretched hovels" among the mountain villages of New England. And other observers, forgetting the corruption of human nature and its perpetual downward tendency, have been tempted to discover in Australian towns and villages unmistakable evidence of convict ancestry.

2. Often almost as low in actual working, but unquestionably higher in theory and result, are the many military colonies through which rather the imperial than the properly colonizing nations have built up their empire. Their objects are everywhere the same: to hold in permanent subjection a country that has been conquered by arms, not won by commerce or industry, and to repress the incursions of hostile peoples. They are what Cicero called them, propugnacula imperii—"outworks of empire." The Assyrian colonies seem to have been of this type. The settlements differ somewhat in character, according to the quality of the troops employed. The lowest of them may have been the Nubian people whom Diocletian transplanted from the Libyan Desert to Syene in order to guard the frontier, and the next lowest the strange colony of Saracens whom the freethinking Frederick II planted in Apulia. Much higher were the colonies of vanquished Goths and Ostrogoths, Franks, Gepidæ, and Vandals whom the Roman emperors settled on the frontiers—in Spain and Britain, Africa and Illyria and Asia Minor, Greece and Palestine. Whether as legionaries or veterans, these soldiers seem to have been accompanied by their families, and where they did not drive away the indigenes (as they did at Camolodunum, in Britain) they were granted lands and supplied with the instruments of tillage. Some of these military settlements, like two of the Numidian colonies, became centers of Roman civilization; others, like Chester, Gloucester, and Colchester, grew into prosperous towns; still others—and these perhaps the majority—like the colony of veterans planted by Hadrian on the desolate site of Jerusalem, did not thrive. Higher yet than these were the towns settled with Greek soldiers by Alexander and the Alexandrids. Of the Macedonian, Thessalian, and Thracian, Thessalonica was alone important; some of those in Asia Minor were in later times flourishing. Military colonies are not unknown in mediseval and modern Europe. The Frank kingdoms of Jerusalem and Cyprus, the principalities into which the Eastern Empire was partitioned, and Constantinople itself, where in the beginning of the thirteenth century there was a Frank colony of fifteen thousand souls, were all military colonies, though of brief existence. Under the Swabian emperors, small colonies of noble and peasant Germans were established in Davos and other Alpine districts in German interests. Spain conquered South America by planting a series of military colonies. France, always more conquering than colonizing, is but slowly converting Algeria from a military into an industrial colony. Even colonizing England has planted military colonies in Ireland, Nova Scotia, and Ohio, besides having temporary camps on her frontiers where towns grow up, as at Raglan and Otahuhu, in New Zealand; and the pensioner settlement of Onehunga may be taken as an image of an ancient Roman colony of veterans.

3. We seem to rise considerably in the scale as we leave behind us colonies founded on the lust of conquest, and arrive at colonies whose formation was governed by political motives. They are always more or less collective; they sometimes take place en masse; they are often directed and organized; and they are homogeneous. Involuntary migrations are among the earliest of them, as when the Achaians and Œnotrians, driven out of the Peloponnesus and Italy by the Dorians and wild tribes from the Apennines, emigrated to Sicily. The best known, and more voluntary, are those of the Ionian cities of Asia Minor, after their subjugation by the Lydians and Persians. A collective Pan-Ionian emigration to Sardinia was proposed, but a series of sovereign states was too disunited for such heroic action, and it took place piecemeal. The whole of the Phocæans, taking with them their wives and children, their furniture, and the decorations of the temples, sailed for Sardinia, but more than half of them lost heart and returned to the subject city which they had sworn never to behold again. The inhabitants of Teos emigrated to Thrace and founded Abdera, to the Bosporus and settled Phanagoria. Many of the Samians fled to the promised land of Cyrene and some to Sicily. Other cities were almost depopulated. After the captivity, and still more after the conquest of Jerusalem, Jewish colonies were similarly dispersed over the greater part of the Greek and Roman world. The Albanians of Scanderbeg, who so bravely resisted the Ottomans, took refuge in Apulia. The Salzburgers described in Hermann und Dorothea, and the noble émigrés of the Revolution, with their headquarters at Coblenz, are recent examples of the collective migration of political colonies. Many Greek colonies were the offspring of internal dissensions in the parent state: Theræan Cyrene is doubtfully said to be one; Syracusan Himera is another. Roman colonies of the same origin were often organized by popular leaders as a safety valve, like those of Carthage and Narbonne by Caius Gracchus. The loyalists, who to the number of forty thousand emigrated to Canada and there settled Ontario after the Declaration of Independence, are a striking example of purely political colonization. But it is rebellion oftener than loyalty that founds colonies. The discontented New-Zealanders who, some fifty years ago, projected an independent republic somewhere in Oceania, anticipated (in imagination only) the Queensland journalist who, to escape from the tyranny of British ideas, emigrated a few years ago with a band of sympathizers to the wilds of Paraguay, there to found, amid impossible surroundings, the Utopia that is now struggling for existence.

4. It may seem a more refinement to distinguish imperial from political colonies. Yet there comes a time in the history of great nations when a spirit of proselytism takes possession of them, and they are irresistibly moved to stamp their institutions and ideas on only half-reluctant peoples. The Athenian colonies planted by Cimon and Pericles, when the queenly city was at the height of her power, were to some extent of this description. More truly propagandist were the five hundred urban communities, with the imperial cities of Alexandria, Antioch, and Thessalonica at their head, founded by conquering Alexander and his victorious generals. Nothing less than the Hellenization of the known world was their aim. Their immediate success was wonderful; their ultimate success has been in a manner complete. With the same systematic activity, continuous, homogeneous, and conscious of its aim, the earlier emperors pursued the Romanization of the world. Cities like Nicopolis and Marcianopolis were founded; Corinth and Patras and Jerusalem were raised from the dust; old provinces were colonized afresh, and newly discovered countries thrown open to settlement. Yet the panegyrist of the empire has to admit that the results attained were in part illusory. The flourishing industry and commerce, literature and art were no products of despotism, but of the earlier free institutions; and the new foundations were artificial and without true life. In modern France, not commerce only, but farreaching schemes of dominion, dictated to Colbert the annexation of Newfoundland, the purchase of the West Indies, the conquest of Senegal, and the systematic colonization of Canada and Cayenne; not gold, but visions of empire, dazzled the imagination of La Salle when he colonized Louisiana. A school of French publicists optimistically ascribes the present colonizing fever in their country to “an impulse of patriotic idealism.” England seems only lately to have become fully conscious of the vocation assigned to her by Hegel seventy years ago as “the missionary of civilization”; and Lord Rosebery's description of the British Empire as “the greatest secular agency for good existing among mankind” is no longer a hyperbole. Germany and Italy, with doubtful success or total failure, follow in her footsteps. Even the United States, once a self-contained commonwealth, now exercises an effective suzerainty over the South American republics, and, finding a continent too narrow for her ambition, annexes the Sandwich Islands. We are at the dawn of a new era of colonization.

5. Early in the century a group of French writers, of whom the most famous was Chateaubriand, reacting from the materialism of the French Revolution, proclaimed Christianity the source of European civilization. A generation later another idealist, Edgar Quinet, generalized the conception, and eloquently exhibited religion as the generating principle of every society: the source of its political institutions, art, literature, and philosophy, the secret of its life and the key to its history. In due time comes the scholar, and the late Fustel de Coulanges applied the view to the civilizations of India, Greece, and Rome. The other day Mr. B. Kidd placed the doctrine on a physiological foundation. But if this theory is true of society in general, it must be true of those special societies named colonies and (what is here in question) of their genesis. As has been seen, colonies have many origins. Yet religion is one of them: there are religious colonies. The religious sentiment has at all times played a large part in colonization. Phoenician Melkarth was the companion and protector of Tyrian colonies. The Hebrew colonization of Palestine was God-guided. Apollo, through the Delphic oracle, was the instigator and director of not a few Greek colonial settlements. Sometimes he nominated a founder; of two cities the god himself was “œkist.” Perhaps we may say that all the later Greek and Roman colonies were placed under divine guardianship, but religion was too closely bound up with government to be of itself the basis of a colony. It is in modern times that the maturity of the religious sentiment has given rise to independent social formations. The great Puritan settlements of New England are unapproachable examples of the strength, cohesion, durableness, and power of generating new communities which that sentiment can give. Its complexion may vary. There are many degrees between the ecclestiastical theocracy of Massachusetts and the secular theocracy of Pennsylvania and west New Jersey, with the transcendental theocracy of Rhode Island as a middle term. In east New Jersey three distinct types were blended. Where religious enthusiasm does not generate colonies, it endows them with a principle of life. Commercial New York might have remained an inorganic community of traders but for the influx of exiles from all Protestant Europe, who gave it the energy of a world-city. If Canada was founded by fishermen and adventurers, it was built up by religious zealots. The sturdy communities of French farmers and Dutch Boers in South Africa had religious dissent as their raison d’être, and still have a strong religious faith as their chief social bond. In our own time two remarkable colonies have been established in the south seas on religious or at least ecclesiastical principles. The Otago Association and the Canterbury Association, which settled the southern parts of New Zealand about the middle of the century, were respectively the outcome of the disruption of the Kirk in 1843 and of the Tractarian movement in the same decade. Both societies had all the characteristics of church settlements: the emigration was homogeneous and of an excellent class; the clerical element had a large share in the government; and many of the institutions had an ecclesiastical tinge. But neither of them was a theocracy even of the mitigated seventeenth-century type, and the lapse of thirty years sufficed to show how ill-adapted were both of them, as originally designed, to the new surroundings. Yet the large and elevated part played by these communities in the history of New Zealand, the importance of similar smaller nuclei in other Australasian colonies, the immense influence of the Puritan, Presbyterian, and Quaker States in North America lend no small countenance to those who believe, with Quinet, that religion is “the substance of humanity.”

6. Even in philanthropic colonies religion is an auxiliary. Georgia was projected partly in the interests of “the persecuted Protestants of Europe,” and was promoted by the Society for Propagating the Gospel. Whitefield and the two Wesleys were among its first evangelists, and a body of German Moravians formed a settlement in its territory. These religionists even sought to turn it into a religious society, but found their heterogeneous materials refractory. It was the flame of philanthropy, burning strong and clear in the breast of James Oglethorpe, that gave the colony its distinctive character. The relief of the poor and the oppressed is a motive that places it higher than any ecclesiastical foundation. Baron Hirsch’s Jewish colonies may be equally religious and humanitarian. Miss Rye’s and other Canadian settlements are the offspring of pure philanthropy, still subsidized mainly by the orthodox and the devout.

7. Lastly, there is a type of colony peculiar to our own time and impossible earlier, which we may call (for want of a better name) sociological. It was the invention of one who to the reflective faculty of a De Tocqueville joined the executive capacity of a Turgot, and who had the good fortune, denied to both, of seeing his conceptions realized. We shrink from the Darwinian ascription of so much to “accident,” but accident plays as large a part in history as in nature, and it was accident which constrained Edward Gibbon Wakefield to throw his energies into the work of colonization. Having examined minutely and considered profoundly the origin and circumstances of existing colonies, he came to the conclusion that a colony, to be successful, must faithfully reproduce the essential members of the mother country—a conclusion in strict conformity with the biological analogy. The superior classes had been lacking to previous emigrations; to induce them to emigrate, and to keep the whole administration in their hands, he proposed to abolish the wholesale granting of lands, or the selling of them at a cheap rate, and to dispose of them at a price which would reserve them for the rich; with the proceeds of the fund so raised the poor were to be sent out as laborers and artisans. State churches and an aristocratic form of government were necessary corollaries. Five colonies were (1837—1851) actually founded on this basis in South Australia and New Zealand. They were administered by men the most capable who have ever governed these countries; the settlers were of the best kind; and they were powerfully aided in England. But the circumstances were unfavorable. The natives in New Zealand were hostile, and the local government was implacably opposed to the growth of an imperium in imperio. The attempt to reproduce in a new country a moribund artistocratic society was foredoomed to failure; the company surrendered its charter, and the settlements were absorbed by the New Zealand Government. They nevertheless contributed greatly to the colonization of a country then covered with forests and occupied by cannibals. Together with the two ecclesiastical provinces of Otago and Canterbury, they have communicated the energy and self-reliance that distinguish the "Britain of the South."

If the foregoing classification of colonial origins be correct, two conclusions necessarily follow: First, colonial societies in their mature state have not been developed out of the primitive loose aggregations of various kinds which everywhere sprang up in favorable circumstances, but are rather founded upon them, as the Pliocene on the Miocene strata. Next, the part which intention and design, conscious and organized action, have played in social evolution is greater than sociologists have hitherto been willing to admit. And as, in virtue of the law that the development of an individual is a recapitulation of the development of its ancestral species, the genesis of colonies is a rehearsal of the genesis of all societies, social origins will have to be studied a little less from imagination and a good deal more from history than has yet been attempted.


  1. See a recent treatise: Conscience et volonté sociales. By J. Novicow. Paris, 1896.
  2. It is no longer the last. The Power that most vigorously protested against the raid—Carlyle's "pious Germany"—has herself, with a mixture of sanctimony and effrontery, laid violent hands on the territory of an unoffending people.