페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

even outline of such a scheme it would be profitless to speculate, for the real objections to any experimental resumption of Imperial control over native policy in New Zealand is one wholly independent of the precise nature of any form of government that might conceivably be originated by the most skilful and well-informed administrator of aboriginal populations.

For weal or woe, we have deliberately conferred representative institutions on a colony containing upwards of 170,000 British inhabitants, a small section of whom, desiring to escape from the burdens of freedom by relinquishing its privileges, proposes to cast the care of its native population on the parent State. But the only real pretext on which the government of the northern island, or of any portion of it, could be retained by the Crown, is one which involves a libel on the whole European population of New Zealand. Such a course could only be vindicated by arguments which assumed their utter incapacity to deal wisely or humanely with the only serious problem which has yet demanded the solution of the Colonial Legislature. If our colonists were really incapable of providing police regulations for the populations dwelling within their territories, and of maintaining law and order therein, the concession to them of the powers of self-government was something worse than a mistake. If Christianity and civilisation had done so little for either the electors or representatives, to whom the first working of the New Zealand Parliament was committed fourteen years ago, as to leave them open to the suspicion of plundering or murderiny a race then more numerous than their own, and which the Constitution of 1852 had actually included within its pale, it was nothing less than a crime of the deepest dye to have intrusted privileges so vast to a community so incompetent to exercise them aright. But the political history of New Zealand utterly negatives a presumption so unjust, both to the donors and to the recipients of the free institutions under which (even in spite of a chronic civil war) the colony has attained so remarkable a measure of material prosperity. It is only by giving full scope to these institutions that we can hope to witness the restoration of a permanent peace, which the presence of ten battalions of Imperial troops has proved powerless to secure. The pretext on which this vast garrison was quartered in New Zealand has been now happily removed by the voluntary action of the Colonial Government, who have purchased an independent and unfettered native policy on the equitable and honourable terms of fighting their own battles and paying their own bills.

The British regiments, or by far the larger portion of them, have been recently recalled ; and in adverting to this circum

stance, our attention is arrested by a special class of difficulties recently superadded to those which we have already enumerated as ordinarily besetting our Colonial military administrators. We allude to the undignified, we might almost say discreditable, controversies which both the New Zealand and Jamaica state-papers disclose as having been carried on, at periods of alleged imminent peril to both colonies, between the Commander of the Forces and the representative of the Queen.

A wrangling correspondence (occupying sixty-nine closely printed folio pages) between Governor Grey and General Cameron, and reported by each of these officials to their respective chiefs at the Colonial and War departments, was carried on during the spring of last year, at a period when the critical position of the colony demanded above all things the most perfect accord and good understanding between all the executive departments of its government. It might at first sight have been supposed that a chronic civil war, not only between Maories and Europeans, but between the Governor and his responsible advisers, together with a constantly impending ministerial crisis, would have been a sufficiently exciting and sensational condition of affairs for any one colony at any one time. Events have proved that in New Zealand, at any rate, this was not very recently the case.

We have no desire to arbitrate between Sir G. Grey and General Cameron, or to pronounce on the merits of a smaller squabble of the same nature, which, as appears from official documents before us, arose between Governor Eyre and General O'Connor, at the very moment when the imminent peril of Jamaica was, according to the concurrent statements of both officers, necessitating a series of official battues among the negro population. To decide on such controversies belongs to the heads of those departments to which they stand referred.

The advocates of departmental fusion at home, by whom the division of labour, supposed to be a product of civilisation, is in its application to our public offices rather regarded as a source of confusion and irresponsibility, may perhaps ascribe these unseemly altercations between the civil and military functionaries in our dependencies to the severance, fourteen years ago, of the departments of War and Colonies, which for the previous half century had been held by the same Minister. Whether the admitted mischief be due to the diversity of the sources of civil and military instructions, to any indistinctness in the instructions themselves, or to any jealousies, personal or official, on the part of those to whom in the instance cited they were addressed, it is to be hoped that the twofold and almost simultaneous illustration of the dangers of a divided authority may

not be lost on those who are responsible for maintaining the peace and securing the allegiance of our Colonial Empire.

There is one mode, at all events, by which the risks to which we have alluded might be materially lessened, and the defence of our distant dependencies rendered at the same time less costly and more efficient. Administrative reform at home may do something; the progress of a spirit of self-reliance in our Colonies may do much more. Every advancing step in the direction of selfgovernment on their part supplies a corresponding assumption of responsibility in the matter of self-defence; and the manifest tendency of recent events is to the gradual withdrawal of the Queen's forces from those colonies on which we have conferred the privileges of freedom. Our dearly-bought experience in New Zealand and South Africa has conclusively proved the superiority, for all purposes of bush or border warfare, of Colonial levies to Imperial troops. No one doubts the bravery of the British soldier; but to employ lancer regiments (as has been done at the Cape), in Kaffir-hunting through impenetrable thorn forests, is simply to put the wrong men in the wrong place; while to attempt by the regular appliances of military engineering the capture of those subterranean labyrinths in which the Maories have burrowed in New Zealand, was an experiment the results of which it was easy to anticipate. In our West Indian Colonies, an admixture of British troops with the black regiments now recruited in the islands is no doubt essential; but in New Zealand and South Africa it is equally certain that, by the gradual substitution of lightly-equipped and easily-moved Colonial corps, like the Cape Mounted Police, or the New Zealand * Forest Rangers,' for regiments of the line transported at vast cost and risk from England, the present perilous dependence of our Colonial fellow-subjects on succours necessarily precarious would be succeeded by a sense of confidence in their own wellproved armour, affording the best guarantee against aggressions from without and insurrection from within.

How long it may be expedient, or even possible, for Imperial England to retain under her protectorate rather than under her dominion those outlying provinces which are gradually assuming all the attributes of independent States, is a question foreign to the immediate purpose of our present inquiry. There are those who admonish us to be prepared for the inevitable day of separation with treaties, bills, proclamations, or other formal recitals, setting forth in official phrase the mutual international consent by which the parent State abdicates her sovereignty, and the Colony accepts her independence. But if there be a de

1 See Lord Bury's Exodus of the Western Nations, vol. ii. p. 457 ; also Mr. Thring's Suggestions for Colonial Reform. London, 1865.

partment of our national policy in which we may safely limit our aims to the living present, withoutattempting to anticipate contingencies wholly beyond our control, it is that which regulates our Colonial Empire. We cannot foresee when, or for what cause, a colony may choose to part company with us. All we know is, that when our recruiting sergeant shall report to us that he can no longer reinforce our legions for foreign service, or our Chancellor of the. Exchequer that he can no longer afford to transport or pay them—when our sceptre can no longer be supported by our sword,—the days of our empire over those races which will neither submit to our rule nor provide for their own self-government will be numbered.

For dependencies falling under this latter class, whatever may be the coniplexion or origin of their native populations, the only political alternatives are anarchy or parental despotism. With this rather large exception, the maintenance of British authority over the provinces of our Colonial Empire can only be secured by the fullest and freest development of those privileges of self-government, which, whether wisely or unwisely, we have irrevocably conceded to them. It is not for the sake of tribute, or glory, or commerce, or in any interest that can be properly called Imperial, that we retain our Colonies. It is in the distinct anticipation of that independence for which we hope eventually to qualify them, and in the meantime, simply in fulfilment of an honourable obligation to those emigrants from our shores, who, under an implied undertaking of temporary protection from the perils in which our Imperial, policy may involve them, have planted themselves in remote corners of our Empire under the shelter of our flag. Nor has it been our wont to scrutinize too closely the arguments by which the communities which have voluntarily sought and found wealth and prosperity in exile enforce their claims to the protection of our arms. It is enough for us that the planter in Jamaica, the frontier farmer at the Cape, or the stock-owner in New Zealand, have domiciled themselves of their own accord within the boundaries of the British Empire. It is this fact which constitutes their claim to be shielded against those blows which a foe stirred up to war by the policy of England, might otherwise successfully aim, not at the real author of that policy, but at the helpless and guiltless ally whom it might be safer and easier to chastise.

The day may come when these admitted obligations may be so numerous, so widespread, and so simultaneously enforced as to be physically incapable of fulfilment. And it is in the face of such a contingency that the development of that spirit of Colonial self-reliance, of which we have hitherto heard so much VOL. XLIV.—NO. LXXXVIII.

2 D

410

Colonial Policy in the Government of Coloured Races.

and seen so little, should be the cardinal aim of our Imperial policy.

The age is happily past when the Colonies were the corpus vile of Imperial experiments, or the mere fields for the unpractical display of Imperial ingenuity; let us hope that the time may not be distant when practical proofs of self-respect and self-dependence shall be substituted for bare professions of loyatly and allegiance, and when the distant dependencies of our Empire, instead of draining the resources of the parent State through a costly political tutelage of indefinite duration, shall be raised to the rank of equals and allies--the pillars of her national strength, and the monuments of her civilisation and her power.

« 이전계속 »