III A PARTY OF NATIONAL EFFICIENCY: THE LIBERAL-IMPERIALISTS AND THE FABIANS
elastic, but I unfortunately it is not elastic, and we are engaged at the present moment, in the language of mining, "in pegging out claims for the future." We have to consider not what we want now, but what we shall want in the future. We have to consider what countries must be developed either by ourselves or some other nation, and we have to remember that it is part of our responsibility and heritage to take care that the world, so far as it can be moulded by us, shall receive an English-speaking complexion, and not that of other nations. . . . We have to look forward beyond the chatter of platforms and the passions of party to the future of the race of which we are at present the trustees, and we should, in my opinion, grossly fail in the task that has been laid upon us did we shrink from responsibilities and decline to take our share in a partition of the world which we have not forced on, but which has been forced upon us.' 2
Popular reaction to imperialism was assessed by Rosebery when he remarked, in a famous speech at Chesterfield on December 16, 1901, that 'the Liberal party should not dissociate themselves, even indirectly or unconsciously or by any careless words, from the new sentiment of Empire which occupies the nation . . . for the statesman, however great he may be, who dissociates himself from that feeling must not be surprised if the nation dissociates itself from him.' 3 During the period few politicians took this risk. There were few men in public life who still insisted that the inevitable tendency of the colonies was independence; fewer still asserted that the colonies were a millstone around the neck of the mother country. Such views, however, had been quite common some sixty, or even some twenty, years earlier. Imperialism, indeed, had won the day.
'Imperialism' is a word of comparatively recent origin, 4 first associated with the Second Empire of Louis Napoleon, before it became identified with some of the more extravagant notions of Benjamin Disraeli. A conventional starting point in the story of late nineteenth-century British 'imperialism' is 1876, when Disraeli persuaded a reluctant parliament to add 'Empress of India' to Victoria's royal title. In the 'eighties, imperialism was sometimes understood to mean the mainte-
nance of the union with Ireland in opposition to the Home Rule ideas of Gladstonian Liberalism. More frequently, imperialism was taken to mean a desire to increase the unity of the 'self-governing' parts of the empire, and as such this sentiment was shared by leaders of both parties. The Imperial Federation League, which was established in 1884 to 'secure by Federation the permanent unity of the Empire,' included the Liberal W. E. Forster as well as Edward Stanhope, who was to become Salisbury's Colonial Secretary in 1886. Other members of the League were Froude, the Tory historian of Tudor England; Sir John Seeley, who held the chair of modern history at Cambridge from 1869 to 1894; Sir Charles Tupper who 'represented! Canada; Sir Charles Gavan Duffy and Sir Henry Parkes who spoke for Australia; but by far the most prominent of the politicians associated with the League was the Earl of Rosebery.
The formation of the Imperial Federation League was just one of the signs of the awakening of imperial sentiment. 5 In 1891, the United Empire Trade League was established. In 1893, the British Empire League was set up and later in that year the Imperial Federation (Defence) Committee. The United Empire Trade League posited an imperial Zollverein, a union of the empire on the basis of an imperial customs system, as its objective, and many imperialists of the 'nineties regarded this device as the most logical means for insuring imperial unity. As early as the 'eighties the Statist had offered a thousand guinea prize for the best essay on an imperial customs union. Growing concern with empire and with Britain's 'imperial mission' can be seen in the reception accorded Sir John Seeley The Expansion of England, one of the most popular books of the 'eighties, and the Liberal-Imperialist Charles Dilke Problems of Greater Britain. A more aggressive imperialism was perceptible in W. E. Henley, who made the National Observer, which he edited from 1888 to 1893, the literary organ of imperialism, and in Rudyard Kipling, who became the nation's most popular poet with his verses extolling the special mission of the British people and the 'white man's burden.' In 1894, Benjamin Kidd published his
Social Evolution in which, as we have seen, he discussed the racial superiority of the Teutonic peoples and called for the sacrifice of individual interests in behalf of a greater national and imperial ideal. Nor was imperialism found only in political philosophy and literature. The mass-circulation pennypress was enlisted in the cause of the empire and delivered daily sermons on the subject to its growing readership. In the 'eighties, W. T. Stead, the friend and executor of Cecil Rhodes, re-made the Pall Mall Gazette into an organ of imperialism. Alfred Harmsworth Daily Mail, founded in 1896, was marked by its imperial jingoism. In 1900, Arthur Pearson founded a competitor paper, the Daily Express, whose first leader, dated April 24th, read: 'Our policy is patriotic; our policy is the British Empire.' 6
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