The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 4
The public usefulness of such a Museum may be measured by the importance of the national interests which it would promote, and by the numbers of people who would be likely to make use of it. Of course great political advantages may be expected from the existence of any institution which would make the Colonies and India better known to England than they are now; and in so far as such an end enters into the purposes of this institution, it would appeal to the whole country. But independently of this general purpose, the proposed Museum would appeal at once to a numerous constituency, the interests of which are already closely linked with India and the Colonies, between which and England there exist such multiplied administrative, commercial, and social relations, that there is an immense number of people in England who are directly interested in obtaining reliable information on India and the Colonies. The importance of Colonial and Indian questions in the life of the English people, the importance of the Colonies and India as a market for English manufactures, as an outlet for English capital and enterprise, and as a field for Colonisation, is likely to increase with every year, and an institution, such as the one described, may well be calculated to have a certain share in advancing these ends.
The commerce of England with India and the Colonies is already very great, and it tends to increase at a quicker rate than the commerce of England with other countries. The imports from the Colonies and India in the year 1874—the last year for which the returns are complete - amounted to £82,000,000, or 22 per cent, of the whole imports. In the same year the Colonies and India took about £72,000,000 of English produce and manufactures, being 30 per cent, of the entire English exports, and more than the united exports of English produce to the three greatest foreign markets, viz., the United States, Germany, and France, which together amounted only to about £69,000,000. That these large imports of English manufactures are mainly due to the political connection of England with the Colonies and India can hardly be doubted, when we compare them with the imports of other countries similarly circumstanced. India finds a complete parallel page 9 in China, yet with a smaller and poorer population it absorbs more than three times the value of English produce, even when including the trade of Hong Kong with that of China proper; the figures for 1874 giving 24 millions for India and about eight millions for China and Hong Kong. Again, Australia and Canada may be compared with the United States. These latter, with a population exceeding 40 millions, imported in 1874 a smaller quantity of English manufactures than Australia and Canada together, though with a population of less than six millions. This fact shows of what vital importance to England is the direction into which the stream of emigration is turned. Each emigrant sent to Canada represents a customer of English goods to the extent of £2 10s. per annum; if sent to Australia, of £8 per annum; whereas if the same emigrant were settled in the United States, he would not require more than 15s. worth per annum of English manufactures. In fact, not only are there no other markets in the world which, in proportion to population consume such large quantities of English manufactures, but there are also no markets which depend so exclusively upon England for the supply of manufactures as India and the Colonies. And, paradoxical as it may sound, it is probably the fact that the colonists, relying, as a body, almost entirely on the English and the intercolonial trade for the supply of all their requirements, consume a very much smaller proportion of foreign produce and manufactures, and take a larger share of English manufactures, than do the English themselves.
A Museum which would faithfully represent all the productions of the Colonies would certainly assist the development of the commercial relations between them and England. Their purchasing power for English manufactures depends largely upon their being able to dispose of their own produce in England. Throughout the Colonies, as well as in India, the necessity is strongly felt, not only for improving the old staples, but also for discovering fresh articles of export. The coffee and the tea trade of India, the now rapidly increasing exports of india-rubber and tobacco from the same country, the wines of the Cape Colony and South Australia, and the attempted cultivation of tobacco and silk in Australia, are examples in point, and are sufficient to mark the direction in which the commerce between England and the page 10 Colonies is likely to progress, and which is in the very direction in which a Museum can render the greatest assistance.
India and the Colonies are even more important as fields for the investment of English capital. Almost all their great public works have been carried out with English capital. An idea of the railways alone may be gathered from the fact that in two or three years, as soon as those now in course of construction are finished, India and the Colonies will possess a mileage exceeding that of the English railway system. It will then amount to above 17,000 miles, of which one half will be in India, and the remainder in the Colonies. Even then a great deal will remain to be done, for it can hardly be doubted that in time even the Canadian Pacific Railway will be constructed. It is very difficult to estimate the actual amount of English capital invested in these railways; especially as in many of the Colonies the railways were built with money raised by the respective Governments on their general account. The only complete statistics available are those which refer to Indian railways. The capital invested in them amounted, on the 31st March, 1875, to above ninety-five millions.
The amount of the public debt of India and the Colonies held in England, is, however, even greater than the investments in railways. The total amount of Indian debt is about 125 millions, and of that of the Colonies about 85 millions, the bulk of both being held in England.* The number of people in England who thus acquire a personal stake in the welfare of India and the Colonies is very considerable, the stock and bond-holders of the Indian railways alone amounting to about sixty thousand. There are, besides, numbers of smaller investments, banks and insurance companies, tea, coffee, indigo and mining companies, and recently mills and other manufacturing establishments all likewise supplied with capital from this country. The whole of the English investments in the Colonies and India will certainly amount to more than 300 millions sterling, of which sum India takes rather less than two-thirds, the rest being divided page 11 pretty equally between the different great Colonies. These sums are certainly very striking; and as regards India especially, it may be doubted whether there is any other country which singly affords such a large field for the investment of English capital. India probably surpasses in this respect even the United States, especially if it be considered what a large proportion of the American securities are in default. On the whole the English investments in India and the Colonies compare very favourably, both as regards amount and as regards security, with those in foreign countries. The whole amount of English capital invested abroad, including the Colonies and India has been estimated at 1,000 millions; and the sum total of all the English investments—home and foreign—at 2,500 millions. India and the Colonies supply therefore, at least 30 per cent. of the investments abroad, and about 12 per cent. of the total investments of England. This proportion would become even more favourable if, instead of the nominal value of the shares and bonds, the calculation were made on the basis of the actual quotations. With the exception of some Canadian railways, the whole of the Indian and Colonial securities are either at par or at least not far from it, whilst the greater portion of the foreign stocks is held at discounts of from 20 to 50, and even more, per cent.; and the defaults of Spain, Turkey, Greece, Mexico, some of the South American Republics, and of some of the North American railways, mines, states and municipalities, show what a large proportion of English capital invested in foreign countries has been utterly lost. Considering, therefore, the superior security and the higher market value of Indian and Colonial paper, the proportion of English capital invested in India and the Colonies must be taken as amounting in actual or marketable value to perhaps 40 per cent. against not much more than 60 per cent. in all the foreign countries put together. These facts prove that the influence of a community of government, laws, and language is as beneficial and as powerful, with respect to the investment of English capital, as it has already been shewn to be as regards the development of the commerce. There is no doubt that both the commerce and the profits from the investment of capital are vastly superior to what they would have been without the intimate political connection which now subsists between England and her dependencies.page 12
The commercial and the money relations just described as existing between England and India and the Colonies, although remarkably developed as compared with similar relations between England and foreign countries of a similar extent of population, partake, after all, of the usual character of her business relations throughout the world, though they may be more safe and more profitable than the average of such relations with other countries. But the unique character of the relations between England and the Colonies consist not so much in the investment of capital as in the investment of men—in the ready outlet provided for individual energy and enterprise, and in the numberless opportunities for a profitable and honourable career open to all classes of Englishmen. The mere numbers of the emigrants who leave our shores for the Colonies convey no idea of the importance of the personal ties and relations which knit the Mother Country and the whole of her possessions into one Empire, not only in virtue of their subordination to the same Sovereign, but in virtue of a community of interests and sympathies. The number of emigrants to the United States is greater than that to the Colonies. But the emigrant to the States is virtually expatriated. Though the similarity of race and language still maintains a certain sentimental bond between the two great English commonwealths, practically the emigrant becomes a member of a rival power; he soon loses all personal contact with the old country, becomes estranged even in his feelings and opinions, and practically concerns England only as a possible customer of 15s. worth per annum of English manufactures, and as a possible debtor of English capital, willing to borrow to any extent, but rather indifferent, not to say neglectful, as to paying the interest, or even the principal, of the sums borrowed. The superiority of the emigrant to the Colonies, in the two characters of customer and debtor, has already been discussed. But, in addition to mere emigrants, there is a large class, consisting of the most enterprising of the English educated middle-class, which practically belongs to England and the Colonies in common, and which, as planters or merchants, or in pursuance of a profession, or in virtue of an office, are most actively interested in Colonial work, and yet never lose hold of the mother country. It is in the number and variety of these personal relations that the wonderful adjustment of the different parts, in their page 13 apparently special adaptation to different purposes, is seen, which together constitute the highly complex political organisation called the British Empire.
The type of Colony which usually appears first in the history of a maritime and commercial country is that of a trading station or trade entrepôt. Hong Kong and Singapore are examples in point. All the colonies of this class occupy only a small territory, with a limited population. The English element is very small, consisting mainly of merchants and their agents. In fact, all such Stations partake of the character of a commercial agency. Their trade is always out of all proportion to their extent and population, because they only serve as depots for the trade with the surrounding independent countries, which are the real consumers of the English goods exported to the colony, and which likewise supply the articles of export, which appear as exports of that colony in the trade returns. Thus, Singapore is a depot for the whole of Farther India and the Islands of the Eastern Archipelago, besides being an entrepot and a coaling station for the Chinese and Australian traders. The tonnage entering that port in 1874 amounted to 1,853,000 tons, and the total value of exports and imports to above £26,000,000, and the whole of the direct trade with England to nearly £5,500,000.
Hong Kong is the great depot for the Chinese and Japanese trade, the tonnage entering the port in one year amounting to 3½ millions of tons. The total value of exports and imports is not registered, but, to judge from the tonnage, it must be even greater than it is in the case of Singapore. The direct trade with England amounts to £4,500,000. Hong Kong, besides being the seat of the principal European firms and banks, controls a large amount of the trade with China and Japan, which never touches the port itself.
Aden is a depot for Southern Arabia and the opposite African coast, and the West African possessions are important only as entrances into independent Africa, and not from any trade derived from their own immediate territory, although the Gold Coast Colony has recently been page 14 territorially extended. Malta and Gibraltar, although in the first place only naval and military stations, yet possess some importance as trade depots for the Barbary States, and also as coaling stations for the whole Mediterranean traffic. The activity of the port of Valetta, at Malta, is strikingly illustrated by the fact that the total value of merchandise entering and leaving the harbour was returned in 1874 at above £16,000,000.
|2.||A second type of colony is shown in the Plantation Colonies, such as the West Indies, Mauritius, and Ceylon. Their special characteristics are very marked, and easily distinguish them from the preceding class. Unlike the Trading Stations, which have no intrinsic value, producing nothing and consuming nothing, and which derive their importance solely from the advantages of their commercial situation with reference to neighbouring countries, the Plantation Colonies are, in themselves, most valuable possessions. The trade returned under their name is in reality their own, and not, as in the case of the previous class, merely a commission business on account of other countries. The Plantation Colonies export only their own produce, and import for their own consumption. If the previous class has been likened to a commercial agency, this class may be considered as a manufacturing establishment. It is true, at first sight, the term plantation implies an agricultural character, but in reality the production of the great plantation products—sugar, rum, coffee, tobacco—partakes much more of the character of manufacture than of farming. In the small space which it occupies, the amount of capital and of skilled labour which it requires, the number of mechanical and chemical operations which the products must undergo before they appear as marketable commodities, a plantation is more nearly akin to a manufacturing establishment than to a farm. This similarity also appears in the fact that all the Plantation Colonies are like manufacturing districts in all countries, food consumers and not food producers, and largely import corn, meat, and the usual farm produce. All the Colonies of this class agree so closely in their general features, that they hardly require a separate description. They are all situated within the tropics, are of a moderate extent, well populated, and with a much larger admixture of the European element than those of the page 15 previous class, a manufacture requiring a larger amount of skilled superintendence than the conduct of a commission agency. The labour used is, however, in all cases native, the Europeans appearing mainly as planters, clerks, and overseers, with a certain number of skilled artisans. The entire trade of these Colonies with England amounts to £16,500,000; but this by no means represents the whole trade of the plantation Colonies, the West Indies, for instance, exporting largely to the United States, and Mauritius to India and Australia.|
|3.||The last class of Colonies consists of those which are really colonised and settled by the English people in bulk, such as Canada, the Cape, and Australia. Whilst the character of the first class was commercial, and that of the second manufacturing, the character of this third class is agricultural, pastoral, and mining. The English element does not, as in the case of the first two classes, consist merely of capitalists and skilled superintendents. A whole section of the English people has been bodily transplanted, and communities have been established in every way similar to our own. Moreover, it is the establishment of such communities, and not trade, which is the very purpose of these Colonies. We go to Hong Kong for the sake of business, to Mauritius or Jamaica for the sake of sugar and rum; the one Colony is only valuable to us as long as it yields a certain commercial profit, the others as long as they supply certain special products which we cannot obtain elsewhere; but we go to Australia or to Canada to settle and remain there. The former only take our manufactures; the latter, in addition to manufactures, take our men. The first two classes of colonies are, as it were, only appendages of a great country—English possessions or dependencies, properly speaking, kept up for certain special purposes as long as certain trade advantages are derived from them. The last class is valuable on account of the additional territory which it supplies for the growth of the English nation. The Colonies included in it are really self-supporting communities, and can hardly be called "possessions," because they are, as it were, additional Englands—integral portions of the English nation, though separated by a certain distance. Hence, page 16 whilst the former classes only affect our commerce, the colonies included in the latter influence our very existence and growth as a nation, and are deeply connected with all our political and social problems. Yet, though trade is not their primary purpose, it has developed to an unexpected magnitude. The wool trade of the world is absolutely controlled by Australia and the Cape, which between them support at the present time more than 70 millions of sheep. The production of gold in Australia and New Zealand equals that in California; the copper trade of Australia and the Cape is every year assuming greater proportions; the Cape, too, has become the principal source for the supply of diamonds; and the North American Colonies continue to supply us with yearly-increasing quantities of timber, corn, fish, and furs.|
The table shows that the English Colonies proper, i.e., exclusive of India, contain above 12 millions of inhabitants, of which above millions are English or European. Of this last number about 6 millions are purely English, whilst the remainder consist mainly of French settled in Canada, the West Indies, and Mauritius, as also of the Dutch in Guiana, the Cape, and Ceylon. The exact numbers of the non-English Europeans are difficult to obtain, and besides the question is of not much importance, because politically, and especially in relation to the dark races, the whole of the European population may be counted as English, and because the process of absorption, especially of the higher and middle classes, is rapidly progressing. The difference between the different classes of Colonies will appear particularly striking if their trade be compared with the number of the English or European population existing them. This is a true standard, because almost the whole trade of the Trading Stations and of the Plantation Colonies is due to the agency of the Europeans; and only in the West Indies a small fraction of the mixed races can be counted as approximating in any way to them in respect of industrial and commercial activity. The results of such a comparison are shown in the following summary, in which only round numbers have been used:—page 19
A glance at these figures at once makes the very different character of the several classes of Colonies strikingly apparent. In the English trade alone we discover a range of from £6 to £2,000 per head of the English population. From the agency character of the Trading Stations one is not surprised in finding them at the top of the list as regards the amount of trade falling on each individual Englishman. There is no occupation in which a smaller number of individuals can turn over such a large capital as in the wholesale commerce. But the actual figures are, nevertheless, striking, especially when it is considered that in calculating the trade per white inhabitant the women and children, and other unproductive members of the European Colony, are included in the number. The average amount of total trade in these Colonies—calculated at probably not far from £10,000 per white inhabitant—need perhaps cause no surprise after the explanations already given with respect to the meaning of the recorded total trade, which includes, in addition to the business of the Colony proper, the value of all the cargoes in the ships which have merely touched at the ports, and with regard to which no business transactions need have taken place at all in the Colony. But even the direct trade with England alone, which by no means completely represents the whole of the business proper of these Colonies, when distributed among the white inhabitants, comes to about £2,000 per head.
The Plantation Colonies follow next in the amount per white inhabitant of both the total and the English trade, and here again the figures at once clearly indicate the character of the English settlers. The total trade amounts to about £300 and the English trade to about £165 per head of the European population. Such an amount of business can only be done by a community consisting largely of capitalists and employers, and making use of other races for labour and all inferior work. The remaining figures apply to Colonies settled more or less in bulk by the Europeans. The lowest figures apply to Canada and the North American Colonies, the total trade being £13 and the English about £6 per head. This is what one would expect from the prevailing agricultural character of these Colonies. Of all occupations agriculture is the one which, in proportion to the capital and the numbers of page 20 persons occupied, turns over the smallest amount of business, and which discharges into the general commerce only a certain surplus of its productions, while in the case of more industrial pursuits the whole production is thrown on the market. The other two groups of Colonies, the Australian and the South African, in which the industrial character becomes more marked than in Canada, show a proportionately larger trade, the total trade of Australia amounting to £42, and that of the Cape to £49 per head, whilst the trade with England comes to £18 and £38 respectively. These numbers are much higher than the Canadian ones. But sheep-farming and mining, which are the mainsprings of the trade of these Colonies, supply the markets with much greater values in proportion to the number of people engaged in them than is the case with the more purely agricultural community in Canada. The especially high figures for the Cape and Natal may be accounted for by the fact that the employment of native labour prevails there to a certain extent, which pro tanto increases the amount of trade filling on each European inhabitant. A certain proportion of the trade, also, is not due to the Colony itself, but is merely a transit trade with the interior of South Africa, as also with the two Dutch Republics, which being themselves shut out from the sea coast, carry on their trade through the English Colonies on the sea-board, so that these two causes likewise contribute to swell the amount of trade, as distributed per head, of each white inhabitant of the Cape and Natal.
The foregoing sketch shows how equally all classes in England are interested in the Colonies. In addition to the exchange of merchandise, there is a constant interchange of population going on between England and the Colonies. The European element in them is constantly being recruited by fresh arrivals from England, resulting in a constant stream of emigration, bringing merchants to Hong Kong, planters to Ceylon and the West Indies, mechanics and skilled artisans to Australia and the Cape, and agriculturists to Canada, whilst a smaller return current brings back to the old country a certain proportion of men who have spent their lives or made their fortunes in the Colonics. There is no productive occupation in which Englishmen engage for which the Colonies do not supply a large page 21 field additional to the home demand, and which does not participate in the beneficial effects which such an increase in the Dumber of careers open to those engaged in it must necessarily produce, both on those who go out to the Colonies and on those who remain at home. Looked at from this point of view, the figures representing the number of the English population in the Colonies acquire a new meaning. For instance, the number of Europeans in the Trading Stations amounting is only 7,600, or the number in the Plantation Colonies amounting only to 100,000, does not at the first sight appear very considerable, and sinks into insignificance when compared with the millions of Canada and Australia. But these 107,600 persons acquire a great additional importance from the fact that they belong mainly to the most enterprising section of the middle class, the class of merchants and employers of labour, a class which, as the figures referring to the trade of the Colonies have already shown, exerts an influence far beyond that of its numbers. Their relative influence on the nation can only be estimated by comparing them, not with the whole English population, but only with the very much smaller number of the corresponding classes in England. Considered from this point of view, their relation to the middle class may approach the degree of importance which some of the other Colonies containing a larger European population possess in relation to the more numerous artisan and agricultural class. And even Australia, the Cape, and Canada, although they mainly absorb the surplus of the English working population, yet afford a much larger number of opportunities to the merchant, capitalist, and skilled engineer or artisan, than do, for instance, the United States, which is practically the only country which need be taken into consideration in such a comparison. It is this influence of the Colonies on the prosperity of all the different classes of the English nation, and especially the outlet which they afford to the most active and best educated part of the middle class, which is the distinguishing feature of their relations with England, and which is the secret of the firm bond of mutual interests existing between them.
* The Indian statistics distinguish between loans contracted in India and those contracted in England, but a very large proportion of the former is likewise held in England.