« AnkstesnisTęsti »
either to destroy the unity of the United Kingdom, or to sweep out of existence the House of Lords. The programme with which Mr. Chamberlain's name is connected is in striking contrast with those endless projects of taking to pieces and putting together again our complex constitution which fill the minds of ministers. His plans he puts before the country, asking for criticism, ready to give explanations, admitting to the full the necessity of threshing out in principle and detail schemes of such far-reaching importance. Can men doubt which of the two, Lord Rosebery or Mr. Chamberlain, is on the right tack?
Unfortunately Lord Rosebery (by no fault of his own) Jabours under two grave disqualifications for the exalted post he is supposed to fill. Unlike all his predecessors, he has never had the inestimable and indispensable advantage of the training in the House of Commons which brings a young minister, or even member, into direct contact with all the questions affecting the internal interests of the Empire, and subjects him to the rough school of debate. Nor has Lord Rosebery's brief official experience been of greater service to him. He has not passed through the gradations of office in various departments, in which the practice of government is to be learned.
The Foreign Office is less in touch than any other with the domestic affairs of the country; its duties lie abroad; and Lord Rosebery, then wholly inexperienced, was placed for a few months at the head of it. The result is that no statesman who has been called upon to preside over the affairs of the Empire had ever acquired so small and imperfect an acquaintance with practical politics, or with the vast and varied duties of a Prime Minister. In the absence of administrative experience Lord Rosebery's imagination and ambition have been inflamed by visionary projects. Imperial Federation, Colonial extension, the dismemberment of the United Kingdom, the disestablishment of Churches, and the revision of the British constitution appear to him to be the legitimate objects of government. We say emphatically that such objects are unreal: they are the offspring of delusion or imposture; they are the mere pretences of a counterfeit revolution.
One thing is certain. The Unionist party must, upon the reassembling of Parliament, force the Ministry to declare itself. To announce a revolution, and then to hold it in suspense, may, for all we know, strike the mind of party managers and wire-pullers as a clever piece of electioneering.
It is, however, difficult to believe that the Cabinet will really take a course which would render so conspicuous the hollowness of their intentions. It is impossible to believe that Parliament can be kept from at once debating the revolution in its own fundamental constitution which the Queen's ministers have announced. The notion of carrying a Bill for the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales, or of passing a Reform Bill, or of otherwise occupying the IIouse of Commons till the Ministry is advised that the right moment has come to proceed with a revolutionary. resolution may surely be dismissed. For his own reputation's sake the Prime Minister will hardly so far trifle with Parliament and the country.
A general election is very near at hand. Should the Ministry obtain a majority, once more a new constitution will see the light. The constitution of 1895 or 1896 will take its place by the side of the constitutions of the years 1886 and 1893, and men will be able for the third time to wonder at the constructive genius of British statesmanship. There is, however, a good deal of common-sense in the British householder. Perhaps he has had enough of failure in the manufacturing of new constitutions, and will turn to statesmen who are prepared to make use of the one they have got to increase the welfare and happiness of the people.
No. CCCLXXII. will be published in April.
Art. I.-1. Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal So
ciety of Canada. Vols. i.-xi. Montreal : 1892-1894. 2. The History of Canada. By W. KINGSFORD, LL.D.,
F.R.S.C. 7 vols. Toronto and London : 1887-1894. 3. Parliamentary Procedure and Practice, with a Review of
the Origin, Growth, and Operation of Parliamentary Institutions in Canada. By J. G. BOURINOT, C.M.G., D.C.L.
Second Edition. Montreal: 1892. 4. Proceedings of the Colonial Conference, held at Ottawa,
Canada, from June 28 to July 9, 1894. Ottawa : 1894. IN N an address presented a few months ago to the Governor
General, Lord Aberdeen, the Royal Society of Canadaa national institution composed of literary and scientific men drawn, for the most part, from the universities, colleges, and learned bodies of the Dominion-made a very appropriate reference to the important services rendered by such men as Lord Sydenham, Lord Elgin, Lord Dufferin, the Marquis of Lorne, and other distinguished representatives of that Sovereign whose reign best illustrates the genius of the English race, and is coincident with that admirable system of government under which Canada has attained 'her present favourable position among the communities of the world.' These words emphatically state an historic truth. No one will deny that the most important feature of the present reign has been-not the victories won by Great Britain in foreign wars, for these are but insignificant compared with those of other times; not triumphs in diplomacy, for they have not been remarkable ; not even success in literature, for more lasting fame has been probably won by
VOL. CLXXXI. NO. CCCLXXII.
writers of other periods; not the extraordinary expansion of commerce and wealth which has resulted from the evolution of sound economic ideas, national enterprise, and scientific discovery. No, assuredly the most significant and enduring achievement of the reign has been the economic, intellectual, and political developement of those prosperous communities which form the colonial empire of the British Isles. We have had quite recently some evidence of the remarkable growth, and the imperial aspirations of these countries, in the Conference that has been held, in the political capital of the Dominion, of delegates from eight free self-governing colonies in Australasia, South Africa, and America, who came together for the express purpose of discussing questions which not merely affect their own peculiar and sectional interests, but touch nearly the unity and integrity of the empire at large. Such a conference was not only an evidence of colonial expansion and ambition, but an acknowledgement of the importance of Canada in the councils of the wide imperial domain of England, since it was not in London, but under the shadow of her own Parliament buildings, that colonists met in conference. The fact that such a conference was possible in the year of grace 1894 is the most expressive testimony that could be borne to the success of the colonial policy of a reign which has given 'so 'admirable a system of government,' not merely to Canada, but to all those colonies that have attained so favourable a 'position among the communities of the world.'
We purpose in the present paper to give a brief historic retrospect of the position Canada occupied at the time when her Majesty ascended the throne, and to compare it with that the Dominion now holds as a federation of seven provinces and organised territories extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. No one will gainsay Canada's preeminence among the dependencies when we consider how much she has done in fifty years, despite the enormous difficulties that have stood in the way of her progress on account of the rivalry of a great republican Power on her borders for three thousand miles, which has drawn away from her the wealth and population of Europe, and also a large number of Canadians from year to year up to a very recent period. In this review it is necessary to refer briefly to some leading features of Canadian history. In these days, when Englishmen have learned at last to take an interest in colonial questions—to recognise the fact that lessons may be learned from even colonial history and colonial statesmanship—we feel no apology need be made to our readers if we ask them to give their attention for a few minutes to a short account of the political evolution of the Canadian federation, which has already passed beyond the first quarter of a century of its existence. In this record we shall see what elements of stability this federation possesses, even when compared with that great Power to the south whose remarkable developement has been among the most interesting features of the century now so near its close.
Both England and France entered about the same time on a career of colonisation in North America. Champlain was already encamped with his little band of settlers on the picturesque heights of Quebec* when the Pilgrim Fathers landed on the rock-bound coast of New England. Then, for a century and a half, the colonies of England and France struggled for the mastery. The sturdy independence of the English colonists, accustomed to think and act for themselves, left as a rule to govern themselves in accordance with the free instincts of Englishmen, was in decided contrast with the subserviency of the French colonists, kept constantly in trammels by the king and his ministers, who were always opposed to the merest semblance of local selfgovernment.
Under the influence of the freedom they enjoyed, and the energy and enterprise peculiar to a commercial and maritime people, the English colonists, who inhabited a relatively narrow strip of territory from Maine to Carolina, soon outnumbered the population of the struggling community that dwelt on the banks of the St. Lawrence.
In the history of the French Canadian there is much to interest us. His patient endurance, his fidelity to his country, his adventurous life in the wilderness of the West, afford themes for poetry, history, and romance. The struggles of Champlain, the adventures of La Salle in the valley of the Mississippi, the exploits of the coureurs de bois and gentlemen-adventurers on the rivers and among the forests, the efforts of Frontenac and other French governors to found a new France on the continent, have already found in Francis Parkman an eloquent and faithful historian. France dreamed once of founding a mighty empire which would stretch from the island of Cape Breton, or Īle Royale, through the valleys of the St. Lawrence, the Ohio, and the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, and of eventually having
Champlain arrived at Quebec (Stadacone) on July 3, 1608, and laid the foundations of the picturesque town.