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Annexation of Fiji. 405
to accept the position, or not. The Government in the meantime instructed Sir Hercules Robinson to proceed to the islands and ascertain the disposition of the population. On the 4th of August the House of Commons agreed to a motion of Mr. McArthur's: 'That this 'House is gratified to learn that Her Majesty's Govern'ment have yielded to the unanimous request of the * chiefs, native population, and white residents of Fiji, 'for annexation to this country, so far as to direct Sir 'Hercules Robinson to proceed to those islands, with a 'view to the accomplishment of that object.' Shortly afterwards the annexation was effected, through the exercise of the prerogative of the Crown.
Thus, both in the case of British Columbia and in that of the Fiji Islands, while the prerogative of the Crown for the formal act of annexing territory and establishing a Government in unsettled territory was never disputed, yet Parliament maintained its right to be consulted, to interpose, and to modify or prohibit the arrangements if expedient, or to share with the Crown in carrying them out to a satisfactory termination. These remarks are important especially in reference to the case of the annexation of the Transvaal, in which Parliament had very little share, and the policy of which, if exposed to the scrutiny of Parliament, would possibly have given rise to so heated a debate, and such a variety of opinions, as to render any action at all extremely difficult.
The grounds for annexing the Transvaal seem to have been that the prevalent anarchy was injurious to the orderly government of the colony of Natal, and that the habitual treatment of the native tribes on the frontier by the Dutch inhabitants of the Transvaal was so reckless and inhuman as to render those tribes a growing source of danger to the colony. The following description of the state of things in the Transvaal, as given in the despatches of Sir T. Shepstone, the British Commissioner, is relevant to the present enquiry, as showing the sort of grounds which the Government believed would commend themselves to Parliament as sufficient and satisfactory reasons for annexing foreign territory by the act of the Prerogative.
On March the 6th, 1877, Sir T. Shepstone writes: 'It was patent to every observer that the Government 'was powerless to control either its white citizens or its 'native subjects; that it was incapable of enforcing its 'laws, or of collecting its taxes; that the Treasury was 'empty; that the salaries of officials had been and are 'months in arrear; that sums payable for the ordinary 'and necessary expenditure of Government cannot be 'had; and that such services as postal contracts were 'long and hopelessly over-due; that the white inhabi'tants had become split into factions, that the large 'native populations within the boundaries of the State * ignore its authority and laws, and that the powerful 'Zulu King, Cetewayo, is anxious to seize upon the first 'opportunity of attacking a country, the conduct of 'whose warriors has convinced him that it can be easily 'conquered by bis clamouring regiments.' On the 12th of March Sir T. Shepstone writes : 'I think it necessary 'to explain, more at length than I was able to do in 'my last despatch, the circumstances which seem to me 'to forbid all hope that the Transvaal Republic is 'capable of maintaining the show even of independent 'existence any longer, which induced me to consider it 'my duty to assume this position in my communicaAnnexation of the Transvaal. 407
'tions with the President and Executive Council, and 'which have convinced me that if I were to leave the 'country in its present condition, I should but expose 'the white inhabitants to anarchy among themselves, 'and to attack from the natives, that would prove not 'only fatal to the republic, but in the highest degree 'dangerous to Her Majesty's possessions and subjects in 'South Africa.'
On the 12th of April the Transvaal Republic was formally annexed to the British Dominions, a proclamation being issued by Sir T. Shepstone, who thereupon assumed office as Administrator. The above despatches of Sir T. Shepstone were presented to Parliament, and the subject was discussed more than once in the House of Commons, as, for instance, on the 24th of July, when an exciting debate took place in consequence of a small knot of Irish members determining to obstruct all progress, among whom Mr. Parnell declared his intention of opposing the measure in every way open to him.
It is observable that the grounds for annexing the Transvaal were much the same as those which had been repeatedly alleged for attaching new provinces, such as the Punjaub and Oude, to the British Dominions in India, —namely, the prevalent anarchy, and the consequent peril to the British frontier. The policy of annexation, thus conceived, has evidently no assignable limit, and the logical consummation of it is exhibited in the deliberate recommendation, in the early part of 1879, of Sir Bartle Frere, High Commissioner for South Africa, to the effect that the British Government should administer, if not occupy and annex, the whole of the territories now inhabited by tribes on the British fron« tier, up to some indefinite line of demarcation in the interior of Africa. The Emperor Augustus acutely foresaw that a policy of indefinitely extending the frontiers of the Roman Empire must end in the Empire falling to pieces through its own weight and unwieldy massiveness, and he is said to have assigned the boundaries beyond which the limits of the Empire ought not to be enlarged by his successors. Exactly the same class of dangers must await the indefinite extension of the British Dominions; and there will arise an ever increasing necessity for Parliament to watch with scrupulous vigilance the exercise of the Prerogative of the Crown in this respect, and not to allow itself to lose its composure and balance of judgment either through deference to some authoritative personage, for a moment influential or overbearing, or through being itself infected with a lust of empire untempered by any sense of the responsibility which each fresh annexation to an increasing extent brings with it.
The disposition to aggrandise the British name and dominions by a profitless extension of territory in a way wholly distinct from, and, in some most important points, contrasted with, that of progressive and cautious colonisation, marks a certain vulgarisation and degradation of national sentiment which has recently been not inaptly, in view of notorious European precedents, stigmatised as 'Imperialism.' There is, no doubt, much that is vague and of uncertain significance in this appellation. The disposition indicated is, however, sufficiently marked by describing it as the preference of show for reality, the readiness to seek in force a substitute for moral and political agencies, an indifference to national landmarks, and a want of concern for Professor Maurice on Imperialism. 409
the imposition of burdensome taxation at home compared with the allurements of a dazzling exhibition of British ascendency in various and remote parts of the earth.
The late Professor F. D. Maurice, in one of his Ivectures on 'Social Morality,'1 describes with unerring precision the opposition between the National and the Imperialistic conceptions of political life, and traces the steps by which the Roman Nation, which was built upon Right and Duty, degenerated into the Empire, which was based upon Force. He says: • I approach the sub'ject which all feel to be most important in speaking 'of the Empire. Its name, its origin, its continuance, 'all point to the function of the soldier. He had been 'the defender of a Nation; wherever he had gone forth 'in wars of conquest, it was still to spread and glorify 'the national name. His discipline exhibited the sub'mission of animal force to a commanding word, his 'courage the personal valour which is called forth in 'those who feel themselves bound by a common 'interest, united in a common cause. He had been 'taught in the civil wars—specially by the great dar'ling of the Legions—that he had in his hands the 'weapons which could break down national barriers, 'which could make him supreme. The lesson was 'formularised by the Empire. The General was the * chief not of a Nation, but of a World. The Army was 'a world power; all relics of national existence could 'not but look very paltry in its eyes. Yet they 'had a charm for it. The old oath, the traditional 'respect for law, could survive great shocks. The 'Jurisconsults, whilst they saw the terrible force of the
1 Lecture XIII., on 'The Universal Empire.'