1. The War with Spain in the Seventeenth Century.
(From Seeley, The Expansion of England.)

"To England the war is throughout an industry, a way to wealth, the most thriving business, the most profitable investment."

Seeley, ibid.

It was in the Elizabethan age, that England first assumed its modern character, and this means that then first it began to find itself in the main current of commerce, and then first to direct its energies to the sea and to the New World. At this point then we mark the beginning of the expansion, the first symptom of the rise of Greater Britain. The great event which announces to the world England's new character and the new place which she is assuming in the world, is the naval invasion by the Spanish Armada. Here, we may say decidedly, begins the modern history of England. Compare this event with anything that preceded it in English history; you will see at once how new it is. And if you inquire in what precisely the novelty consists, you will arrive at this answer that the event is throughout oceanic. Of course we had always been an island; of course our foreign wars had always begun at least on the sea. But by the sea in earlier times had always been meant the strait, the channel, or at most the narrow seas.


Now for the first time it is different. The whole struggle begins, proceeds, and ends upon the sea, and it is but the last act of a drama which has been played, not in the English seas at all, but in the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico. The invader is the master of the New World, the inheritor of the legacies of Columbus and Vasco da Gama; his main complaint is that his monopoly of that New World has been infringed; and by whom is the invasion met? Not by the Hotspurs of medieval chivalry, nor by the archers who won Crécy for us, but by a new race of men, such as medieval England had not known, by the hero-buccaneers, the Drakes and Hawkins, whose lives had been passed in tossing upon that Ocean which to their fathers had been an unexplored, unprofitable desert. Now for the first time might it be said of England — what the popular song assumes to have been always true of her — that "her march is on the Ocean wave." 

But there is no Greater Britain as yet; only the impulse has been felt to found one, and the path has been explored, which leads to the trans-atlantic seats where the Englishmen of Greater Britain may one day live. While Drake and Hawkins have set the example of the rough heroism and love of roaming which might find the way into the Promised Land, Humphrey Gilbert and Walter Raleigh display the genius which settles, founds, and colonises. In the next reign Greater Britain is founded, though neither Gilbert nor Raleigh are allowed to enter into it. In 1606


James I. signs the Charter of Virginia, and in 1620 that of New England. And now very speedily the new life with which England is animated, her new objects and her now resources, are exhibited so as to attract the attention of all Europe. It is in the war of King and Parliament, and afterwards in the Protectorate, that the new English policy is first exhibited on a great scale. Under Cromwell England appears, but prematurely and on the unsound basis of imperialism, such as she definitely became under William III. and continued to be throughout the eighteenth century, and this is England steadily expanding into Greater Britain.

It seems to me to be the principal characteristic of this phase of England that she is at once commercial and warlike. A commonplace is current about the natural connexion between commerce and peace, and hence it has been inferred that the wars of modern England are attributable to the influence of a feudal aristocracy. Aristocracies, it is said, naturally love war, being in their own origin military; whereas the trader just as naturally desires peace, that he may practise his trade without interruption. A good specimen of the a priori method of reasoning in politics! Why! how came we to conquer India? Was it not a direct consequence of trading with India? And that is only the most conspicuous illustration of a law which prevails throughout English history in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the law, namely, of the intimate interdependence of war


and trade, so that throughout that period trade leads naturally to war and war fosters trade. I have pointed out already that the wars of the eighteenth century were incomparably greater and more burdensome than those of the Middle Ages. In a less degree those of the seventeenth century were also great. These are precisely the centuries in which England grew more and more a commercial country. England indeed grew ever more war-like at that time as she grew more commercial. And it is not difficult to show that a cause was at work to make war and commerce increase together. This cause is the old colonial system.

Commerce in itself may favour peace, but when commerce is artificially shut out by a decree of Government from some promising territory, then commerce just as naturally favours war. We know this by our own recent experience with China. The New World might have favoured trade without at the same time favouring war, if it had consisted of a number of liberal-minded States open to intercourse with foreigners, or if it had been occupied by European colonies which pursued an equally liberal system. But we now know what the old colonial system was. We know that it carved out the New World into territories, which were regarded as estates, to be enjoyed in each case by the colonising nation. The hope of obtaining such splendid estates and enjoying the profits that were reaped from them, constituted the greatest stimulus to commerce that had ever been known, and it was a stimulus which acted without intermission


for centuries. This vast historic cause had gradually the effect of bringing to an end the old medieval structure of society and introducing the in­dustrial ages. But inseparable from the commercial stimulus was the stimulus of international rivalry. The object of each nation was now to increase its trade, not by waiting upon the wants of mankind, but by a wholly different method, namely, by getting exclusive possession of some rich tract in the New World. Now whatever may be the natural opposition between the spirit of trade and the spirit of war, trade pursued in this method is almost identical with war, and can hardly fail to lead to war. What is conquest but appropriation of territory? Now appropriation of territory under the old colonial system became the first national object. The five nations of the West were launched into an eager competition for territory, that is, they were put into a relation to each other in which the pursuit of wealth naturally led to quarrels, a relation in which, as I said, commerce and war were inseparably entangled together, so that commerce led to war and war fostered com­merce. The character of the new period which was thus opened showed itself very early. Consider the nature of that long desultory war of England with Spain, of which the expedition of the Armada was the most striking incident. I have said that the English sea-captains were very like buccaneers, and indeed to England the war is throughout an industry, a way to wealth, the most thriving business, the most profitable investment,


of the time. That Spanish war is in fact the infancy of English foreign trade. The first generation of Englishmen that invested capital, put it into that war. As now we put our money into railways or what not? so then the keen man of business took shares in the new ship which Francis Drake was fitting out at Plymouth, and which was intended to lie in wait for the treasure galleons, or make raids upon the Spanish towns in the Gulf of Mexico. And yet the two countries were formally not even at war with each other. It was thus that the system of monopoly in the New World made trade and war indistinguishable from each other.


2. England's Struggle with Holland in the Seventeenth Century.

(From Seeley, The Expansion of England.)

"Holland is our great rival in trade, on the Ocean and in the New World. Let us destroy her, though she be a Protestant Power, let us destroy her with the help of a Catholic Power."

Seeley, ibid.


From the point from which we here regard English history, the great occurrence of the seventeenth century before 1688 is not the Civil War or the execution of the king, but the intervention of Cromwell in the European war. This act may almost be regarded as the foundation of the Eng-


lish World-Empire. It was of so much immediate importance that it may be said to have decided the fall of the Spanish Power. Spain, which less than a century before had overshadowed the world, is found soon after lying a helpless prey to the ambition of Louis XIV. Perhaps the turning-point is marked by the Revolution of Portugal, which took place in 1640. Then began the fall of Spain. But for twenty years from that time she struggled with her destiny, and the internal troubles of her rival France caused a reaction in her favour. At this crisis then the interference of Cromwell was decisive. Spain fell never to rise again, and no measure taken by England had for centuries been so momentous.

But it marks the rise as well as the fall of a World-Power. England by this time has learned to profit by the example of Holland, and follows her in the path of commercial empire. The first Stuarts, though it was in their time that our first colonies were founded, show, I think, no signs of having entered into the new ideas. They abandon the Elizabethan system, and set their faces towards the Old World rather than the New. But this reaction comes to an end with the accession to power of the party of the Commonwealth. A policy now begins which is not, to be sure, very scrupulous, but is able, resolute and successful.

It is oceanic and looks westward, like the policy of the later years of Elizabeth. New England was itself the child of Puritanism, and of Puritanism in that second form of Independency to which


Cromwell himself adhered. Accordingly it took a very direct part in the English Revolution. Now too the great English navy, so famous since, begins to rule the seas under the command of Robert Blake. The navy is now and henceforth the great instrument of England's power. The army — though it is more highly organised than ever before, and has in fact usurped the government of the country and placed its leader on the throne; this army falls with a great catastrophe and is devoted to public execration, but the navy from this time forward is the nation's favourite. Henceforward it is a maxim that England is not a military state, that she ought to have either no army or the smallest army possible, but that her navy ought to be the strongest in the world.

From our point of view the colonial policy of Cromwell does not attract us by any marked superiority either in morality or success to that of the Restoration, but rather as the model which Charles II. imitates. Moral rectitude is hardly a characteristic of it, and if it is religious, this perhaps would have appeared, had the Protectorate lasted longer, to have been its most dangerous feature. Nothing is more dangerous than Imperialism marching with an idea on its banner, and Protestantism was to our Emperor Oliver what the ideas of the Revolution were to Napoleon and his nephew. The success too of this policy is of the same Napoleonic type. England had become for the moment a military State, and necessarily assumed a far grander position in the world than she could


support when she disbanded her army and became constitutional again. The Protectorate has been happy in coming to an end before its true character was understood. By the law of its nature it was drawn towards war. It is an illusion to suppose that the Puritanism of the Protector or of his party was analogous to modern Liberalism, and therefore inspired a repugnance to war. Read Marvell's panegyric on him. The virtuous poet predicts that Oliver will be ere long "a Caesar to Gaul and a Hannibal to Italy." Does the prospect shock him? Not at all; lest his hero should falter in the course, he exhorts him to "march indefatigably on," and bids him remember that "the same acts that did gain a power must it maintain." Nor when we examine the Protector's foreign policy do we find him unmindful of this principle. He seems to look forward to a religious war, in which England will play the same part in Europe that he himself with his Ironsides has played in England. Some of his modern admirers have perceived this. "In truth," writes Macaulay, "there was nothing which Cromwell had, for his own sake and that of his family, so much reason to desire as a general religious war in Europe ... Unhappily for him he had no opportunity of displaying his admirable military talents except against the inhabitants of the British isles." We may well, I think, shudder at the thought of the danger which was removed by the fall of the Protectorate.

On the side of the Continent this imperialist policy was developed but imperfectly, but on the


side of the New World, where it was borne upon the tide of the time, it went further and had more lasting consequences. Here indeed Cromwell's policy is only that of the Long Parliament before him and of Charles II. after him. It has indeed a peculiarly absolute and unscrupulous tinge. Of his own pure will, without consulting directly or indirectly the people, and in spite of opposition in his Council, he plunges the country into a war with Spain. This war is commenced after the manner of the old Elizabethan sea-rovers by a sudden descent without previous quarrel or declaration of war upon St. Domingo.

But the great characteristic of this Commonwealth period, indeed of the whole middle part of the seventeenth century, is not war with Spain, but war with Holland. If Cromwell's breach with Spain shows most strikingly by its violent suddenness the spirit of the new commercial policy, yet it is capable of being misinterpreted. For Spain was the great Catholic Power, and therefore it might be imagined that our war with her was caused by the other great, historic cause which then acted, by the Reformation, and not by the New World. But what of our war with Holland? Had the Reformation been the dominating cause in the seventeenth century, we should have seen England and Holland in permanent brotherly alliance. It is the great proof that this cause is fast giving way to the other, viz., the great trade-rivalry produced by the New World, that all through the


middle of the seventeenth century England and Holland wage great naval wars of a character such as had never been seen before. These wars are seldom sufficiently considered as a whole, and therefore are explained by causes which in fact were only secondary. This is especially the case with the war of 1672, for which Charles II. and the Cabal are responsible. It is cited as a proof of the reckless immorality of that Government, that it combined with the Catholic Government of Louis XIV. to strike a deadly blow at the brother Protestant Power, and that it did so for a dynastic interest, for the purpose of raising to power Charles II.'s nephew, the young Prince of Orange. And no doubt Charles II. had this object. Nevertheless there was nothing now at that time either in war with Holland or alliance with France. Instead of suddenly reversing the foreign policy of the country, Charles here followed precedents set by the Commonwealth and by Cromwell, for the former had waged fierce war with Holland, and the latter had entered into alliance with France. Accordingly the Government was supported by some of those who inherited the tradition of the Commonwealth. Anthony Ashley Cooper, a man of Cromwellian ideas, supported it by quoting the old words Delenda est Carthago. In other words: "Holland is our great rival in trade, on the Ocean and in the New World. Let us destroy her, though she be a Protestant Power, let us destroy her with the help of a Catholic Power." These were the maxims


of the Commonwealth and of the Protector, because, Puritans though they were and though they had risen up against Popery, they understood that in their age the struggle of the Churches was falling into the background, and that the rivalry of the maritime Powers for trade and empire in the New World was taking its place as the question of the day.


3. The War of the Spanish Succession;
its Commercial Character.

(From Seeley, The Expansion of England, and The Growth
of British Policy.)

"It is the most business-like of all our wars."   Seeley, ibid.

That war has such a splendour in our annals, and the title we give it, "War of the Spanish Succession," has such a monarchical ring, that we think it a good sample of the fantastic, barbaric, wasteful wars of the olden time. It is of this war that "little Peterkin" desires to know "what good came of it at last." In reality it is the most business-like of all our wars, and it was waged in the interest of English and Dutch merchants whose trade and livelihood were at stake. All those colonial questions, which had been setting Europe at discord ever since the New World was laid open, were brought to a head at once by the prospect of a union between France and the Spanish Empire,


for such a union would close almost the whole New World to the English and Dutch and throw it open to the countrymen of Colbert, who were at that moment exploring and settling the Mississippi.

It was not a general augmentation, however vast, of the power of France through the absorption of the Spanish Monarchy that was feared, but an augmentation of a special kind, especially intolerable to the two trading and maritime Powers represented by William. William had been prepared to see the House of Bourbons acquire Naples, Sicily, and even more. But he could not see it absorb the Spanish Monarchy, for the Spanish Monarchy was the very power at the expense of which since the reign of Philip II. both the Dutch Empire and the British Empire had grown up.

The absorption of the Spanish Monarchy did not mean simply the absorption of certain European territories; it meant that of the greatest colonial and commercial system in the world. The Spanish Succession which was really all-important was the succession to Spain's commercial position. The Power which had discovered America, which had for a long time divided with Portugal the oceanic world, and then for almost a century had possessed the Portuguese colonies along with Portugal itself, and which, though it had greatly declined, maintained still its old pretensions — that this Power should pass into new hands involved the greatest commercial revolution that can be conceived. For


any European Power that was mainly commercial it raised the most vital questions of life and death. England had become by this time just such a state. William had made her conscious that she had this character, that she was a kind of successor in commercial supremacy to the United Provinces. Commercial states, it had been found, must have religious toleration, and he had given us the Toleration Act; they must have a bank, and he had created the Bank of England. By the Navigation Act she had entered into direct rivalry with the United Provinces and she seemed now to have settled all her domestic difficulties. But in most of those stages of economical progress France had marched abreast with her and France had out-stripped her in war and in general influence. The Spanish question might decide the competition of the two states once for all in favour of France, by throwing open all the oceans and at the same time the Mediterranean to French trade and to French ships, and perhaps also by closing all this area to the trade of England.

In the critical year 1701, when the question of peace or war was decided, the Tory party, that is the party which was most nervously afraid of military politics and foreign complications, had the lead in England. It was in spite of their inclination that in the course of that year public opinion became decisively convinced of the necessity of war. The argument was mainly economic. The nature and conditions of our trade were more carefully considered than at any former


time. It was understood that a crisis had been reached in the commercial development of the country.

The character of this war, the greatest in which we were engaged before the Napoleonic time, ought to be clearly understood. It was unlike those that had gone before in this, that it was a war against France and Spain at once. This very fact marks the transition that was being made, since throughout the eighteenth century those two Powers are commonly in alliance against us. The conjunction of the old maritime Power of the past with the great military Power of the actual time threatened such a Power as England had now begun to be with ruin. This was the view which influenced us in 1701. William revived the Grand Alliance and it was determined by a new war to obtain security for Britain and for the United Provinces and at the same time an indemnity for Austria, the rival claimant to the Spanish Succession on the ground of hereditary right. Such was the commencement of the war; let us now look at its results. One of its results was to deprive the House of Bourbon of the Catholic Low Countries which were given to Austria, while a barrier of fortresses in this region was given to the Dutch. Such was the final settlement of that long debate which had really begun when Alba was sent to the Low Countries in 1567. For eighty years the Dutch had struggled with Spain and then after a stadtholderless interval they struggled for nearly forty years with France. In the end the French power was


held at a sufficient distance from their frontier and a barrier was established which was to serve as a bulwark to them for the greater part of the eighteenth century. Thus did the United Provinces by the help of England crown the work which they had begun in the sixteenth century. But what did England acquire for herself by this war of the Spanish Succession? By considering this we may see in what way she thought herself interested in the war. She took Gibraltar and Port Mahon; she took Acadia; and by the Asiento Compact she acquired a certain share in the trade with Spanish America. Thus preoccupied is the English mind with the subject of trade. By occupying two Mediterranean stations she enters upon that policy which she has since pushed so far. She first establishes that Weltstellung which in her modern World-Empire is so characteristic. She takes up a position at the entrance of the Mediterranean. In course of time she was to take up many similar stations both in the Mediterranean and in greater seas. Gibraltar was to be the first of a series to which within a century Malta, the Cape of Good Hope, besides Quebec, Madras and Calcutta, and within two centuries many other trading and military stations in all parts of the world were to be added.



4. The Rohilla War (1774).

(From Macaulay, Warren Hastings.)

"For shameful lucre."
"A lasting stain on the fame of
Hastings and of England."

Macaulay, ibid.

The people of Central Asia had always been to the inhabitants of India what the warriors of the German forests were to the subjects of the decaying monarchy of Rome. The dark, slender, and timid Hindoo shrank from a conflict with the strong muscle and resolute spirit of the fair race which dwelt beyond the passes. There is reason to believe that, at a period anterior to the dawn of regular history, the people who spoke the rich and flexible Sanscrit came from regions lying far beyond the Hyphasis and the Hystaspes, and imposed their yoke on the children of the soil. It is certain that, during the last ten centuries, a succession of invaders descended from the west on Hindostan; nor was the course of conquest ever turned back towards the setting sun, till that memorable campaign in which the cross of Saint George was planted on the walls of Ghizni.

The Emperors of Hindostan themselves came from the other side of the great mountain-ridge; and it had always been their practice to recruit their army from the hardy and valiant race from which their own illustrious house sprang. Among the military adventurers who were allured to the Mogul standards from the neighbourhood of Cabul and Candahar, were conspicuous several gallant


bands, known by the name of the Rohillas. Their services had been rewarded with large tracts of land, fiefs of the spear, if we may use an expression drawn from an analogous state of things, in that fertile plain through which the Ramgunga flows from the snowy heights of Kumaon to join the Ganges. In the general confusion which followed the death of Aurungzebe, the warlike colony became virtually independent. The Rohillas were distinguished from the other inhabitants of India by a peculiarly fair complexion. They were more honourably distinguished by courage in war, and by skill in the arts of peace. While anarchy raged from Lahore to Cape Comorin, their little territory enjoyed the blessings of repose under the guardianship of valour. Agriculture and commerce flourished among them; nor were they negligent of rhetoric and poetry. Many persons now living have heard aged men talk with regret of the golden days when the Afghan princes ruled in the vale of Rohilcund.  

Sujah Dowlah had set his heart on adding this rich district to his own principality. Right, or show of right, he had absolutely none. His claim was in no respect better founded than that of Catherine to Poland, or that of the Bonaparte family to Spain. The Rohillas held their country by exactly the same title by which he held his, and had governed their country far better than his had ever been governed. Nor were they a people whom it was perfectly safe to attack. Their land was indeed an open plain destitute of natural defences; but their veins were full of the high


blood of Afghanistan. As soldiers, they had not the steadiness which is seldom found except in company with strict discipline; but their impetuous valour had been proved on many fields of battle. It was said that their chiefs, when united by common peril, could bring eighty thousand men into the field. Sujah Dowlah had himself seen them fight, and wisely shrank from a conflict with them. There was in India one army, and only one, against which even those proud Caucasian tribes could not stand. It had been abundantly proved that neither tenfold odds, nor the martial ardour of the boldest Asiatic nations, could avail aught against English science and resolution. Was it possible to induce the Governor of Bengal let out to hire the irresistible energies of the imperial people, the skill against which the ablest chiefs of Hindostan were helpless as infants, the discipline which had so often triumphed over the frantic struggles of fanaticism and despair, the unconquerable British courage which is never so sedate and stubborn as towards the close of a doubtful and murderous day?

This was what the Nabob Vizier asked, and what Hastings granted. A bargain was soon struck. Each of the negotiators had what the other wanted. Hastings was in need of funds to carry on the government of Bengal, and to send remittances to London; and Sujah Dowlah had an ample revenue. Sujah Dowlah was bent on subjugating the Rohillas, and Hastings had at his disposal the only force by which the Rohillas could


be subjugated. It was agreed that an English army should be lent to the Nabob Vizier, and that, for the loan, he should pay four hundred thousand pounds sterling, besides defraying all the charge of the troops while employed in his service.

"I really cannot see," says Mr. Gleig, "upon what grounds, either of political or moral justice, this proposition deserves to be stigmatised as infamous." If we understand the meaning of words, it is infamous to commit a wicked action for hire, and it is wicked to engage in war without provocation. In this particular war, scarcely one aggravating circumstance was wanting. The object of the Rohilla war was this, to deprive a large population, who had never done us the least harm, of a good government, and to place them, against their will, under an execrably bad one. Nay, even this is not all. England now descended far below the level even of those petty German princes who, about the same time, sold us troops to fight the Americans. The hussar-mongers of Hesse and Anspach had at least the assurance that the expeditions on which their soldiers were to be employed would be conducted in conformity with the humane rules of civilised warfare. Was the Rohilla war likely to be so conducted? Did the Governor stipulate that it should be so conducted? He well knew what Indian warfare was. He well knew that the power which he covenanted to put into Sujah Dowlah's hands would, in all probability, be atrociously abused, and he required no guarantee, no promise, that it should not be so abused. He did


not even reserve to himself the right of withdrawing his aid in case of abuse, however gross. We are almost ashamed to notice Major Scott's plea, that Hastings was justified in letting out English troops to slaughter the Rohillas, because the Rohillas were not of Indian race, but a colony from a distant country. What were the English themselves? Was it for them to proclaim a crusade for the expulsion of all intruders from the countries watered by the Ganges? Did it lie in their mouths to contend that a foreign settler who establishes an empire in India is a caput lupinum? What would they have said if any other power had, on such a ground, attacked Madras or Calcutta, without the slightest provocation? Such a defence was wanting to make the infamy of the transaction complete. The atrocity of the crime, and the hypocrisy of the apology, are worthy of each other.

One of the three brigades of which the Bengal army consisted was sent under Colonel Champion to join Sujah Dowlah's forces. The Rohillas expostulated, entreated, offered a large ransom, but in vain. They then resolved to defend themselves to the last. A bloody battle was fought. "The enemy," says Colonel Champion, "gave proof of a good share of military knowledge, and it is impossible to describe a more obstinate firmness of resolution than they displayed." The dastardly sovereign of Oude fled from the field. The English were left unsupported, but their fire and their charge were irresistible. It was not, however, till the most distinguished chiefs had fallen, fighting bravely at


the head of their troops, that the Rohilla ranks gave way. Then the Nabob Vizier and his rabble made their appearance, and hastened to plunder the camp of the valiant enemies, whom they had never dared to look in the face. The soldiers of the Company, trained in an exact discipline, kept unbroken order, while the tents were pillaged by those worthless allies. But many voices were heard to exclaim, "We have had all the fighting, and those rogues are to have all the profit." 

Then the horrors of Indian war were let loose on the fair valleys and cities of Rohilcund. The whole country was in a blaze. More than a hundred thousand people fled from their homes to pestilential jungles, preferring famine, and fever, and the haunts of tigers, to the tyranny of him to whom an English and a Christian government had, for shameful lucre, sold their substance, and their blood, and the honour of their wives and daughters. Colonel Champion remonstrated with the Nabob Vizier, and sent strong representations to Fort William; but the Governor had made no conditions as to the mode in which the war was to be carried on. He had troubled himself about nothing but his forty lacs; and, though he might disapprove of Sujah Dowlah's wanton barbarity, he did not think himself entitled to interfere, except by offering advice. This delicacy excites the admiration of the biographer. "Mr. Hastings," he says, "could not himself dictate to the Nabob, nor permit the commander of the Company's troops to dictate how the war was to be carried on." No, to be sure.


Mr. Hastings had only to put down by main force the brave struggles of innocent men fighting for their liberty. Their military resistance crushed, his duties ended; and he had then only to fold his arms and look on, while their villages were burned, their children butchered. Will Mr. Gleig seriously maintain this opinion? Is any rule more plain than this, that whoever voluntarily gives to another irresistible power over human beings is bound to take order that such power shall not be barbarously abused? But we beg pardon of our readers for arguing a point so clear.

We hasten to the end of this sad and disgraceful story. The war ceased. The finest population in India was subjected to a greedy, cowardly, cruel tyrant. Commerce and agriculture languished. The rich province which had tempted the cupidity of Sujah Dowlah became the most miserable part even of his miserable dominions. Yet is the injured nation not extinct. At long intervals gleams of its ancient spirit have flashed forth; and even at this day, valour, and self-respect, and a chivalrous feeling rare among Asiatics, and a bitter remembrance of the great crime of England, distinguish that noble Afghan race. To this day they are regarded as the best of all sepoys at the cold steel, and it was very recently remarked, by one who had enjoyed great opportunities of observation, that the only natives of India to whom the word "gentleman" can with perfect propriety be applied, are to be found among the Rohillas.


5. The Opium War (1840-42).

(From Mc Carthy, A History of Our Own Times.)

"A war more unjust in its origin, a war more calculated in its progress to cover this country with disgrace, I do not know, and I have not read of .... If the British flag were never to be hoisted except as it is now hoisted on the coast of China, we should recoil from its sight with horror."   
W. E. Gladstone in the House of Commons,
April 8, 1840.

On March 3, 1843, five huge waggons, each of them drawn by four horses, and the whole under escort of a detachment of the 60th Regiment, arrived in front of the Mint. An immense crowd followed the waggons. It was soon that they were filled with boxes; and one of the boxes having been somewhat broken in its journey, the crowd were able to see that, it was crammed full of odd-looking silver coins. The lookers-on were delighted, as well as amused, by the sight of this huge consignment of treasure; and when it became known that the silver money was the first instalment of the China ransom, there were lusty cheers given as the waggons passed through the gates of the Mint. This was a payment on account of the war indemnity imposed on China. Nearly four millions and a half sterling was the sum of the indemnity, in addition to one million and a quarter which had already been paid by the Chinese authorities. Many readers may remember that for some time ''China money" was regularly set down as an item


in the revenues of each year with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to deal. The China War of which this money was the spoil was not perhaps an event of which the nation was entitled to be very proud. It was the precursor of other wars; the policy on which it was conducted has never since ceased altogether to be a question of more or less excited controversy; but it may safely be asserted that if the same events were to occur in our day it would be hardly possible to find a Ministry to originate a war, for which at the same time it must be owned that the vast majority of the people, of all politics and classes, were only too ready then to find excuse and even justification. The waggon-loads of silver conveyed into the Mint amid the cheers of the crowd were the spoils of the famous Opium War.

Reduced to plain words, the principle for which we fought in the China War was the right of Great Britain to force a peculiar trade upon a foreign people in spite of the protestations of the Government and all such public opinion as there was of the nation. Of course this was not the avowed motive of the war. Not often in history is the real and inspiring motive of a war proclaimed in so many words by those who carry it on. Not often, indeed, is it seen, naked and avowed, even in the minds of its promoters themselves. As the quarrel between this country and China went on, a great many minor and incidental subjects of dispute arose which for the moment put the one main and original question out of people's minds; and


in the course of these discussions it happened more than once that the Chinese authorities took some slips which put them decidedly in the wrong. But no consideration of this kind can now hide from our eyes the fact that in the beginning and the very origin of the quarrel we were distinctly in the wrong. We asserted, or at least acted on the assertion of, a claim so unreasonable and even monstrous that it never could have been made upon any nation strong enough to render its assertion a matter of serious responsibility.

The whole principle of Chinese civilisation, at the time when the Opium War broke out, was based on conditions which to any modern nation must seem erroneous and unreasonable. The Chinese governments and people desired to have no political relations or dealings whatever with any other State. They were not so obstinately set against private and commercial dealings; but they would have no political intercourse with foreigners, and they would not even recognise the existence of foreign peoples as States. They were perfectly satisfied with themselves and their own systems. Absurd as the idea must appear to us, yet the Chinese might have found a good deal to say for it. It was the result of a civilisation so ancient that the oldest events preserved in European history were but as yesterday in the comparison. Whatever its errors and defects, it was distinctly a civilisation. It was a system with a literature and laws and institutions of its own; it was a coherent and harmonious social and political system which


had on the whole worked tolerably well, and the one thing which China asked of European civilisation and the thing called Modern Progress was to be let alone. China's prayer to Europe was that of Diogenes to Alexander — "stand out of my sunshine."

It was, as we have said, to political relationships rather than to private and commercial dealings with foreign peoples that the Chinese felt an unconquerable objection.   They did not indeed like even private and commercial dealings with foreigners. They would much rather have lived without ever seeing the face of a foreigner. But they had put up with the private intrusion of foreigners and trade, and had had dealings with American traders, and with the East India Company. The charter and the exclusive rights of the East India Company expired in April 1834; the charter was renewed under different conditions, and the trade with China was thrown open. One of the great branches of the East India Company's business with China was the opium trade. When the trading privileges ceased this traffic was taken up briskly by private merchants, who bought of the Company the opium which they grew in India and sold it to the Chinese. The Chinese governments, and all teachers, moralists, and persons of education in China, had long desired to get rid of or put down this trade in opium. They considered it highly detrimental to the morals, the health and the prosperity of the people. Of late the destructive effects of opium have often been disputed, particularly in the House of Commons. It has


been said that it is not on the average nearly so unwholesome us the Chinese governments always thought, and that it does not do as much proportionate harm to China as the use of brandy, whisky, and gin does to England. It seems to this writer hardly possible to doubt that the use of opium is, on the whole, a curse to any nation; but, even if this were not so, the question between England and the Chinese governments would remain just the same. The Chinese governments may have taken exaggerated views of the evils of the opium trade; their motives in wishing to put it down may have been mixed with considerations of interest as much political as philanthropic. All that had nothing to do with the question. States are not at liberty to help the subjects of other States to break the laws of their own governments. Especially when these laws even profess to concern questions of morals, is it the duty of foreign States not to interfere with the regulations which a government considers it necessary to impose for the protection of its people. All traffic in opium was strictly forbidden by the governments and laws of China. Yet our English traders carried on a brisk and profitable trade in the forbidden article. The arrangements with the Chinese Government allowed the existence of all establishments and machinery for carrying on a general trade at Canton and Macao; and under cover of these arrangements the opium traders set up their regular head-quarters in these towns.

Let us find an illustration intelligible to readers of the present day to show how unjustifiable was


this practice. The State of Maine, as everyone knows, prohibits the common sale of spirituous liquors. Let us suppose that several companies of English merchants were formed in Portland and Augusta, and the other towns of Maine, for the purpose of brewing beer and distilling whisky, and selling both to the public of Maine in defiance of the State laws. Let us further suppose that when the authorities of Maine proceeded to put the State laws in force against these intruders, our Government here took up the cause of the whisky sellers, and sent an ironclad fleet to Portland to compel the people of Maine to put up with them. It seems impossible to think of any English Government taking such a course as this; or of the English public enduring it for one moment. In the case of such a nation as the United States, nothing of the kind would be possible. But in dealing with China the Ministry never seems to have thought the right or wrong of the question a matter worthy of any consideration. The controversy was entered upon with as light it heart as a modern war of still graver moment. The people in general knew nothing about the matter until it had gone so far that the original point of dispute was almost out of sight, and it seemed as if the safety of English subjects and the honour of England were compromised in some way by the high-handed proceedings of the Chinese Government.

The English Government appointed superintendents to manage our commercial dealings with China. Unluckily these superintendents were in-


vested with a sort of political or diplomatic character, and thus from the first became objectionable to the Chinese authorities. One of the first of these superintendents acted in disregard of the express instructions of his own Government. He was told that the must not pass the entrance of the Canton river in a vessel of war, as the Chinese authorities always made a marked distinction between ships of war and merchant vessels in regard to the freedom of intercourse. Misunderstandings occurred at every new step of negotiation.

Our representatives were generally disposed to be unyielding; and not only that, but to see deliberate offence in every Chinese usage or ceremony which the authorities endeavoured to impose on them. On the other hand, the Chinese believed from the first that the superintendents were there merely to protect the opium trade, and to force on China political relations with the West. Practically this was the effect of their presence. The superintendents took no steps to aid the Chinese authorities in stopping the hated trade. The British traders naturally enough thought that the British Government were determined to protect them in carrying it on. Indeed the superintendents themselves might well have had the same conviction. The Government at home allowed Captain Elliott, the chief superintendent, to make appeal after appeal for instructions without paying the slightest attention to him. Captain Elliott saw that the opium traders were growing more and more reckless and audacious; that they were


thrusting their trade under the very eyes of the Chinese authorities. At length the English Government announced to him the decision which they ought to have made known months, not to say years before, that, "her Majesty's Government could not interfere for the purpose of enabling British subjects to violate the laws of the country with which they trade"; and that "any loss therefore which such persons may suffer in consequence of the more effectual execution of the Chinese laws on this subject must be borne by the parties who have brought that loss on themselves by their own acts." This very wise and proper resolve came, however, too late. Captain Elliott seems to have now believed that the announcement of his superiors was but a graceful diplomatic figure of speech. When the Chinese authorities actually proceeded to insist on the forfeiture of an immense quantity of the opium in the hand of British traders, and took other harsh, but certainly not unnatural measures to extinguish the traffic, Captain Elliott sent to the Governor of India a request for as many ships of war as could be spared for the protection of the life and property of Englishmen in China. Before long British ships arrived; and the two countries were at war.

It is not surprising if the English people at home know little of the original causes of the controversy. All that presented itself to their mind was the fact that Englishmen were in danger in a foreign country; that they were harshly treated and recklessly imprisoned; that their lives were in


jeopardy, and that the flag of England was insulted. There was a general notion, too, that the Chinese were a barbarous and a ridiculous people who had no alphabet, and thought themselves much better than any other people, even the English, and that, on the whole, it would be a good thing to take the conceit out of them. Those who remember what the common feeling of ordinary society was at the time, will admit that it did not reach a much loftier level than this. The matter was, however, taken up more seriously in Parliament.

The policy of the Government was challenged in the House of Commons, but with results of more importance to the existing composition of the English Cabinet than to the relations between this country and China. Sir James Graham moved a resolution condemning the policy of ministers, for having by its uncertainty and other errors brought about the war, which, however, he did not then think it possible to avoid. A debate which continued for three days took place. There were on the part of the Government great efforts made to represent the motion as an attempt to prevent the Ministry from exacting satisfaction from the Chinese Government, and from protecting the lives and interests of Englishmen in China. But it is unfortunately only too often the duty of statesmen to recognise the necessity of carrying on a war, even while they are of opinion that they whose mismanagement brought about the war deserve condemnation. When Englishmen are being im-


prisoned and murdered, the innocent just as well as the guilty, in a foreign country — when, in short, war is actually going on — it is not possible for English statesmen in opposition to say "We will not allow England to strike a blow in defence of our follow-countrymen and our flag, because we are of opinion that better judgment on the part of our Government would have spared us the beginning of such a war." There was really no inconsistency in recognising the necessity of carrying on the war, and at the same time censuring the Ministry who had allowed the necessity to be forced upon us. With all their efforts, the ministers were only able to command a majority of nine votes as the result of the three days' debate.

The war, however, went on. It was easy work enough so far as England was concerned. It was on our side nothing but a succession of cheap victories. The Chinese fought very bravely in a great many instances; and they showed still more often a Spartan-like resolve not to survive defeat. When one of the Chinese cities was taken by Sir Hugh Cough, the Tartar general went into his house as soon as he saw that all was lost, made his servants set fire to the building, and calmly sat in his chair until he was burned to death. One of the English officers writes of the same attack that it was impossible to compute the loss of the Chinese, "for when they found they could stand no longer against us, they cut the throats of their wives and children, or drove them into wells or ponds, and then destroyed themselves. In many houses there were


from eight to twelve dead bodies, and I myself saw a dozen women and children drowning themselves in a small pond, the day after the fight." We quickly captured the island of Chusan, on the east coast of China; a part of our squadron went up the Peiho river to threaten the capital; negotiations were opened, and the preliminaries of a treaty were made out, to which, however, neither the English Government nor the Chinese would agree, and the war was reopened. Chusan was again taken by us; Ningpo, a large city a few miles in on the mainland, fell into our hands; Amoy, farther south, was captured; our troops were before Nankin, when the Chinese Govermment at last saw how futile was the idea of resisting our arms. Their women or their children might just as well have attempted to encounter our soldiers. With all the bravery which the Chinese often displayed, there was something pitiful, pathetic, ludicrous, in the simple and childlike attempts which they made to carry on war against us. They made peace at last on any terms we chose to ask. We asked in the first instance the cession in perpetuity to us of the island of Hong-Kong. Of course we got it. Then we asked that five ports, Canton, Amoy, Foo-Chow-Foo, Ningpo, and Shanghai, should be thrown open to British traders, and that consuls should be established there. Needless to say that this too was conceded. Then it was agreed that the indemnity already mentioned should be paid by the Chinese Government — some four millions and a half sterling, in addition to one million and


a quarter as compensation for the destroyed opium. The war was over for the present, and the thanks of both Houses of Parliament were voted to the fleet and army engaged in the operations. The Duke of Wellington moved the vote of thanks in the House of Lords. He could hardly help, one would think, forming in his mind as he spoke an occasional contrast between the services which he asked the House to honour, and the sort of warfare which it had been his glorious duty to engage in so long. The Duke of Wellington was a simple-minded man with little sense of humour. He did not probably perceive himself the irony that others might have seen in the fact that the conqueror of Napoleon, the victor in years of warfare against soldiers unsurpassed in history, should have had to move a vote of thanks to the fleet and army which triumphed over the unarmed, helpless, childlike Chinese.

The whole chapter of history ended, not inappropriately perhaps, with a rather pitiful dispute between the English Government and the English traders about the amount of compensation to which the latter laid claim for their destroyed opium. The traders insisted that the amount given for this purpose by the Chinese Government did not nearly meet their losses. The English Government, on the other hand, would not admit that they were bound in any way further to make good the losses of the merchants. At last, the matter was compromised; the merchants had to take what they could get, something considerably below their demand, and give in return to the Government an


immediate acquittance in full. It is hard to get up any feeling of sympathy with the traders who lost on such a speculation. It is hard to feel any regret even if the Government which had done so much for them in the war treated them so shabbily when the war was over; but that they were treated shabbily in the final settlement sees to us to allow of no doubt.


6. The Boer War (1899-1902).

(From H. M. Ferrars, Greater Britain.)

"A war against liberty, against independence and everything which Englishmen most revere."

H. W. Paul in the
House of Commons,
19. February 1906. 


South Africa was finally acquired by a sordid bargain. In 1652 the Dutch East India Company had established a station at Table Bay. They had extended their influence till it embraced the best part of the present Cape Colony. To the Dutch and the Huguenot refugees belongs the credit of having found the means of developing the country, chiefly in a pastoral direction. The English seized the Cape colony in 1795, but had to restore it to Holland at the peace of Amiens in 1802. They seized it again in 1806 and at the peace of Vienna in 1815 it was surrendered to them on the merely constructive ground of the Napoleonic dominion of Holland, which was the last thing desired by the Dutch people. Struggles with


the Kaffirs distracted the attention of the colonists from their local politics for long, the British government being occupied for a generation and more in fighting the common enemy — the real possessors of the soil — for the colony. To create a counterweight against the Dutch predominance, efforts to promote British emigration to the Cape were made in 1820, with moderate success, which soon declined. The Briton shows but little capability for adapting himself to the ways of South Africa. The abolition of slavery led to the emigration of a great proportion of the Dutch colonists — the "Boers" — in 1836, first to Natal and then to the north of the Orange and Vaal Rivers, where they founded the Transvaal and Orange Free State Republics, over which Britain claimed a fitful and nominal suzerainty. By degrees all the vacant territory — vacant that is of European State occupation — of any prospective value in the environment of Cape Colony was absorbed by the British. The areas not thus occupied by the British and occupied by other powers have so far not proved self-supporting, the Congo excepted; and the fiscal success there is largely dependent on the resort to "methods of barbarism". The discovery of gold on the Rand and of diamonds at Kimberley led to a great immigration of foreigners, chiefly of British domicile, and the growth of a great settlement of foreigners — "Uitländer" — at Johannesburg, outnumbering the population of the republic by several times. The claims of these settlers for political rights more nearly according with those


of European countries led to severe tension between their sponsors and the Boers, who naturally did not want their legislature swamped with adventurers. The Boers had already in 1881 in a short war defeated the British at Majuba Hill, and the British annexation of the Transvaal had been reversed, only suzerainty being claimed. The Boers were confident — and not without reason — of their ability to conquer the whole territory. A criminal raid, perpetrated by an irregular force of British, had been repelled by the Boers and the ringleaders magnanimously handed over to their own authorities for trial, which proved much of a farce, as did likewise a subsequent investigation into the complicity of responsible British statesmen in the adventure. The "Jingo" government, in office in 1899, proceeded to ship re-inforcements for the garrison of South Africa, upon which the allied republics marched their troops into the British colony of Natal and the three years' bloody war began. The British accused the Boers of commencing hostilities, but as Spencer points out, the "Wild West" view of a quarrel hits the mark in this case, in which that party is regarded as beginner of the fray who first moves his hand to his weapon. It has been said that the English are "the most warlike and least military of nations" — the readiest to appeal to the arbitrament of war, and the least prepared for it when it comes. They have to learn the art anew in every campaign. After great expenditure in men and material in the process of learning, their greater resources prevailed and the Boer


republics were finally annexed. Almost the first act of the Liberal majority which had overthrown the 'Jingo' regime in 1905 was to accord the promised responsible government to the Boers, who have since then most loyally accepted the situation. Soon the generals who had been fighting the British were wielding the power of government as the ministers of their own elected assemblies. Twenty years' patience might have tided over the period of tension and saved the horrors of this war. But it should not be forgotten how large a section of the British public was opposed to the war. For the first time in English History the clergy in great numbers refused to read prayers for the success of the British arms. But so far from the methods of that war being, as they were described in the heat of party feeling, "methods of barbarism" — a calumny scarcely surpassed by the detractors of Britain abroad — there can be no doubt that the Boer war was the humanest war ever waged, the worst evils arising out of it — the infant mortality in the concentration campsbeing due to no want of humane purpose, but to that same official ineptitude which sent the British soldiers themselves to sea with rotten provisions. If wise counsels had prevailed a generation earlier; if the advice of that great pro-consul Sir George Grey had been followed and the South African colonies been federated in the 'fifties, a quiet and contented commonwealth like Australia might have been constituted even then.