The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84
Imperial Federation. — Great Meeting in the Town Hall
Great Meeting in the Town Hall.
A public meeting of "citizens of Melbourne who desire to maintain the integrity of the British Empire and to bring its parts into closer union," convened by Mr. Godfrey Downes Carter (the mayor), was held in the Town-hall, on Friday evening, June 5. The doors were besieged for some time before the hour fixed for their opening, and when the meeting commenced the hall was well filled, the balconies and south gallery being chiefly occupied by ladies, for whom and their escorts these had been considerately reserved. The period of waiting was pleasantly wiled away in listening to national and patriotic airs played on the great organ by Mr. David Lee, whose performances were acknowledged by the most cordial applause. As the speakers filed on to the platform the organist played the National Anthem, and the audience rose en masse.
The Mayor presided, and amongst the gentlemen on the platform were the Bishop of Melbourne, Mr. Justice Holroyd, Professor Elkington, Professor Morris, Messrs. Ham, M.L.C., E. Langton, G. H. F. Webb, J. Blyth, R. G. Benson, H. J. Langdon, J. M'Dougall, D. Bennett, W. E. Murphy, A. G. M'Intyre, T. L. Parker, E. G. FitzGibbon, Councillors Terry, Wilks, and Peirce, Dr. Moloney, Dr. Blair, Dr. Robertson, Messrs. W. G. Lempriere, J. Smith, C. R. Blackett, S. Leon, J. D. Emerson, G. W. Taylor, and a large number of other gentlemen.
The Mayor, who upon taking the chair was greeted with loud applause, said :—Ladies and gentlemen.—Before introducing to you His Honour Mr. Justice Holroyd, who will move the first resolution, I desire to say a few words as to how and why this meeting has been convened, as I see that doubts have been circulated in the press as to who might be its promoters. (Hear, hear.) The answer is very simple; like, I presume, the greater number of those I see confronting me this evening, I have, to use the words of the late Duke of Wellington, been "trying to guess what was on the other side of the hill," with regard to the future destiny of the British Empire; and noticing the great interest that this question—this greatest of great questions—has excited in the old country, and that an Imperial Federation League has been formed there, numbering amongst its members some of the brightest and ablest of England's sons, I have many times wondered why the request of that League that the colonies should inaugurate branches of the parent association, had not been complied with. I waited for a long time hoping that someone or other would take the necessary steps to form a branch in Australia. Finding, however, that no one did so, some months ago I determined, rightly or wrongly, to take the initiative myself. (Cheers.) And invited a number of gentlemen to meet me, whose names are on the programme which has been circulated amongst you, and I found that with scarcely one exception they coincided with my opinions and considered that this was an opportune time to start such a branch, it being a period of political peace, and when public enthusiasm had been aroused by recent events—(cheers)—when I may say there has been such a shaking of the dry bones among the people of our race as has not occurred previously during our life-times. (Loud Applause.) They further agreed with me that this should be a non-political movement as far as local party politics are concerned, and we therfore decided that until after this meeting had been held, and until we had placed the case fairly end squarely before the people of Victoria, we would not invite the co-operation of politicians, because we felt that if we did so it would be very difficult to page 4 keep quite clear of the suspicion of being influenced by party motives—(hear, hear),—and at this moment we require the assistance of men of all shades of politics. We want all to be for the state, and none for themselves. (Cheers.) We next decided unanimously that we should not pretend to place any scheme of Federation before you. What we wish to do is simply to endeavour to rouse the people to a sense of the necessity of Federation, if we are to remain a part of the great British Empire. (Loud cheers.) I have been told, ladies and gentlemen, that there is a section of the people of this country who [unclear: lo] not believe in Imperial Federation—Applause and "No.")—and I have also been old that those unbelievers are young people. (Applause.) Well, I desire here, on behalf of my sons, and of the young of this colony generally, to give that statement the most emphatic denial. (Loud cheers.) I say that of these young people we are very proud. We are proud of their successes at the Universities, not only here, but in the old land, and of their triumphs in all manly sports, on the [unclear: iver,] in the cricket field and elsewhere; but We, their fathers, know perfectly well that [unclear: hey] owe us everything they possess, even their existence, and that in a few short years We shall leave them what little we have not Already given them, and amongst that little we shall leave them as a sacred trust the [unclear: raditions] of our race, and we feel quite satis-[unclear: ed] that they will be true to them. (Loud [unclear: heers.]) Mr. Froude told me, when he was [unclear: ere] recently, that the thinking men of America were beginning to see that the probable outcome of the Federation movements [unclear: oing] on throughout the world would be the [unclear: nion] of all English speaking peoples,—loud [unclear: siheers]—and I say that he who tells me that [unclear: ur] worthy sons are so small in their ideas [unclear: hat] they cannot look to such a future with [unclear: ope] and with anxiety, grossly slanders our [unclear: oung] people. (Cheers.) I say that that is the [unclear: uture] that we and they do look for, and why ? [unclear: iot] merely for our own personal advantage—which will be considerable—but because we [unclear: now] perfectly well that the manifest destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race is to carry civilisation [unclear: nd] liberty wherever they go, and once united [unclear: s] one people they will carry them to the [unclear: reater] part of this habitable world. (Cheers.) [unclear: will] not trespass upon you further, but will [unclear: sk] Mr. Justice Holroyd to move the first [unclear: esolution.] (Cheers.)
"That, in order to maintain the integrity of the British Empire, and to bring" its parts into closer union and co-operation, some form of federation is essential."
What does that resolution assume? You all know that the British Empire is composed of many widely-dispersed communities, some of them already great nations, and others growing rapidly to become great. Whoever votes for this resolution will signify his belief that these communities, as they increase in population and expand in power, should not fall away from each other, should not pursue each an isolated career unmindful of kindred ties and of the influence for good which union produces, but should combine for common interests and common objects, and for those interests which combination makes common. (Loud cheers.) For I tell you that combination creates unity of purpose as well as it effectuates concerted designs. (Applause.) Nations are like politicians; as soon as they coalesce they begin to assimilate. (Applause and laughter.) That is what the resolution assumes. What does it affirm? That, to effect the purpose of combination amongst all parts of the British Empire which shall some day lead to a combination of all English-speaking peoples, a league is necessary. What does a league mean? Two things—there are two principles—one clearly admitted already by the Imperial Federation League, and another which, to my mind, is the corollary upon it. The first is a comprehensive scheme of international defence—(cheers)—in which every member of the British Empire shall bear a proportionate part; and the second is a voice for each member in controlling the external policy of the Empire. (Cheers.) We are not now, at our first meeting, to consider means; we are here to consider principles, and I am trying to point out to you the meaning of this first resolution, more particularly because I wish every man and woman and child that I can influence to adopt it with their eyes open. (Hear, hear.) Now, I know well enough that there are many men whom I am very far from despising, whose opinions are worth page 5 hearing, weighing, and deeply considering—(cheers)—and those men think that in the event of war between Great Britain and another foreign power, the colonies of Great Britain are placed in an unfair position of great peril. (Cheers.) I do not deny that, and I know to what it has led in many thoughtful minds, whose opinions, I beg you to mark, I most sincerely respect, though I differ from them. (Cheers.) Many men think that that leads necessarily to separation,; Why? Because they say if a war ensues between Great Britain and a foreign power we colonists would be exposed to the risk of invasion in a cause for which we care not a jot, and which may be in our opinion an unjust one. (Cheers.) Gentlemen, I know that opinion as well as possible, and I know the conclusion to which it leads. But apart from all question of sentiment, I venture to think the conclusion is wrong. (Cheers.) And I will tell you why. Do you think that if any strong nation wants a pretext to invade a weak one it cannot find it? (Laughter and cheers.) And, suppose we colonists were separated from Great Britain—or I would rather say from the United Kingdom of England and Ireland—(cheers)—to-morrow, and some foreign power, shall we say Russia, wished to invade us; and, if Russia had that desire, what would she say? That our ocean fleet of steamers, laden with wool and grain and gold, had troubled her cruisers in the southern seas. (Laughter.) And, if she should afterwards sack Melbourne, what would she call the act? She would call it "an incident"—(laughter)—and "trust that it would not embarrass our future amicable relations." (Laughter and cheers.) Well, gentlemen, and if we were separated, and if that great misfortune, which God for-fend should happen, did happen, and this Australia of ours was invaded by any great power like Russia, or even France—for noble as the French people are, we can never depend upon a French Government—("Hear, hear," and cheers)—I say if that great misfortune should happen, what would be our best chance of safety, supposing us to have "cut the painter ?" Bravely as our handful of men would fight to prevent this country falling into the hands of the enemy, and I know they would do that—they come of English, Scotch, and Irish blood, and, of course, they would fight—(cheers)—they inherit that spirit from those from whom they got every good thing that they have in this world—from their ancestors—(cheers)—but bravely as they would fight, the chances are they would be beaten. And if we were beaten down, where would be our best chance of safety? In this, that the grand old mother country, although discarded and cut off, would say—"We will never let our children perish." (Loud cheers.) Gentlemen, that is sentiment. (Hear, hear.) But I tell you this that sentiment is a living force in this world—(cheers)—which every statesman and every man of action has to take into account, and if that day, which I pray to God may never come, should come, then there will live in the minds and hearts of all Englishmen the memory of the New South Wales contingent and Mr. Dailey! (Cheers.) That is the meaning of sentiment, and it is by sentiment alone that we can awaken enthusiasm and kindle a great idea. (Cheers.) When we come to details, we talk business. (Laughter.) We look at them in a hard, practical way; and that is what, if you become members of this society, you will have to do. (Laughter.) You are asked to help us. We have difficulties enough before us. But what should we do ? Because of the very number and magnitude of these difficulties, why, we should tackle them at once. ("Hear, hear," and cheers.) And recollect that we shall be only a small part of a vast society, a contributing member of an enormous circulating library. (Cheers.) I trust, there fore, no man will think that because he cannot see the way to the solution of these difficult problems at the outset, a multitude of men may not find the way in the future. (Cheers.) I have only one more word to add, and that is, beware of false friends. (Cheers.) There are men in this community, who are opponents of this movement, but dare not avow it. (Hear, hear.) All those who are really sincere in their desire for the closer union of the vast circle of British communities, wish to be honestly and adversely criticised, for the simple reason that the more and the more truly they are criticised, the more able they will be to understand the difficulties which beset them, and to find means to overcome those difficulties. (Hear, hear.) But there is one thing which I hate, and against which I will fight with all my might, and I hope you will too, and that is the man who, page 6 while pretending good will towards this movement, tries to daunt us at the outset of our career by predicting inevitable failure. (Cheers.) I now ask you, with all your heart and soul, to carry this motion with acclamation. (Loud and continued applause.)
The Chairman called upon the Hon. Edward Langton to second the resolution.
"Our crowned republics' crowning common sense
That saved her many times."
that I believe the best thing that can happen for the world, is for the United Kingdom to be the paramount authority in it. And I will tell you why. Because the British people—whatever individual Governments may do, and though we may find men who lend them selves purely to party ends—the British people at heart are sound. They do not care for glory; they do not go to war for glory: they do not go to war for aggrandisement; they recognise the mission which Providence appears to have cast upon them, and they are prepared to fulfil it—the mission of promoting freedom, of securing justice, and preserving peace throughout the world. (Loud and prolonged cheers.)
"Breathes there a man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land."
(Cheers.) I think it is unnecessary for me to take up your time further, and I will simply call upon you to vote in favor of the resolution which has been already proposed and seconded by His Honor Mr. Justice Holroyd and the Honorable Edward Langton, (Loud cheers.)
Mr. Whitelaw (speaking from the body of the hall) said—Mr. Mayor, before you put the resolution, I ask permission to say a word. (Cries of "Platform.")
"That, in order to unite and strengthen this portion of Her Majesty's dominions, a society be formed of men of all parties to advocate and support the federal union of the Australian colonies. (Hear, hear.) That this meeting is further of opinion that the time has not yet arrived for an Imperial federation such as that proposed by Mr. Justice Holroyd."
(Cheers, and dissent.) I have been some 48 years in this and the adjoining colony of New South Wales. I have six Australians, the youngest of whom is 28. ("Hear, hear," and laughter.) I have 21 young Victorians—gumsuckers—(Cheers and laughter)—and I expect very shortly to be a great grandfather, (Laughter.) For these reasons, ladies and gentlemen, I think I have a right to speak. "Hear, hear." I speak on their behalf—("hear, hear")—and it strikes me very forcibly that this resolution which is now before the meeting endangers their political and social rights. (Cries of "No, no," and "Yes, yes.") The resolution itself is unmeaning, and I am very much surprised that such a resolution should be submitted to such an intelligent meeting as this. (Cries of "Oh !" and confusion.) I will read it, gentlemen, and then let us judge for ourselves. "That in order to maintain the integrity of the British Empire, and to bring its parts into closer union and cooperation, some form of federation is essential." What meaning the words "Some form of federation" conveys to you I really cannot understand. To me it is quite incomprehensible. It means nothing. (Cries of "Time," and confusion.)
His Worship said :—I will ask you to give Mr. Whitelaw a quiet hearing. It must be a very poor cause indeed which cannot bear the criticism of all that can be said against it. Mr. Whitelaw has assured me that he will only occupy a few minutes, and I will ask you patiently to grant him a reasonable time.page 10
Mr. Whitelaw resuming, said:—I have no fear of the meeting before me, but it is the gentlemen on the platform behind me that I am afraid of. (Laughter.) I say "Some form of federation" means nothing. We have a right to know what we are committing ourselves to if we vote for this resolution, but there has been no explanation given by any of the speakers who have addressed you to-night as to what form of federation they propose. I hope this large and influential meeting will not entertain the idea of voting for the motion. When I was a boy at school, and wanted to refer to something of which I did not know the meaning I called it a "Thingamy-bob." (Laughter.) Now this "Some form of federation" is simply a "thingamy-bob," and I am sure no one understands it' (Laughter.) I may take this opportunity of mentioning that the Australian natives have an association here, which numbers more members than there are persons in this room, and they have passed a resolution unanimously condemning this proposal. (Cheers.) I noticed by the newspapers to-day that the chairman was furnished with a copy of this resolution, which might be read to the meeting. I will conclude by moving the amendment which I have read, and I do not wish to occupy your time any longer.
His Worship read the amendment, and asked if anyone would second it.
Mr. H. Leonard, who ascended the platform, said Mr. Chairman, Ladies, and Gentlemen,—I should think myself wanting in moral courage if I did not come forward as an Australian and enter my protest against the resolution. (Hear, hear.) Some years ago, when in conversation with the late Sir John O'Shanassy in the hall of the Assembly, some mention was made of Imperial federation. Sir John said : "As soon as Australian federation comes on the board, Imperial federation will be drawn across it as a red herring." (Hear, hear, and laughter.) English statesmen can see that there is a glorious nation rising in the south with many grand institutions, many of which they have not had the pleasure of enjoying yet. (Hear, hear, ironical cheers, and laughter.) We have many liberties which the men of the old country still have to enjoy. (Hear, hear, confusion, and a Voice : "What are they?") Anyone who says that we have any desire to separate from the mother country utters a slander upon us. (Cheers.) I think the manner that the New South Wales men responded to the call is a denial of that statement. I, therefore, have much pleasure in seconding the amendment. ("Hear, hear," and dissent.)
His Worship the Mayor said:—I desire to say that only the last part of this document which I have read is in the form of an amendment. The rest is surplusage. I will now call on the Right Rev. Dr. Moorhouse.
The People's Memorial: A tribute of respect and affection to Australia from English hearts and homes.
To the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Melbourne.
We, whose names arc written on the following pages, arc anxious to express the delight and gratitude with which we have heard how deeply our brothers and sisters in Australia and elsewhere sympathise with the mother country in this her hour of peril and perplexity. We warmly thank those who have come forward to fight for us in our battles, and we assure those who remain at home that England will never feel that she stands alone, when she can thus count upon the love and service of her children in the colonies.
Now, gentlemen, 4,000 names are appended to that memorial—(Cheers)—and the ladies tell me they only stopped getting signatures because they were tired out (Hear, hear.) They likewise tell me that the signatures were given with an enthusiasm that would have cheered us and warmed our hearts; that men who were asked to sign replied, "Sign, aye, with both hands;" and others, again, said, "Sign, I should think we will; this is no red tape, the bishop will tell it to the people." (Loud cheers.) A number of dock labourers in Paddington asked to be allowed to sign, because, said they, "We have brothers and sisters in Melbourne, and we want them to know what the folks at home feel." (Cheers.) And others again said, "Will the bishop write to us? Tell him the memorial comes from the people's hearts." (Cheers,) Now, ladies and gentlemen, I dare say there may be little enough of love, amity, and unity in the regions of red tape, but these feelings glow in the hearts of living people, and I say that there is a bond of union and affection between England and her colonies which no brute force can break, and which I think not even domestic jealousies can dissolve. (Cheers.) I say the time is ripe, for here are the proofs of it—(Cheers)—and the question only remains for us—Is it worth our while to endeavour to make this affection, which is proved to exist, an abiding feeling? (Cheers.) I think it is, and again, in opposition to the mover of the amendment, I must say that the time is ripe to make the attempt. (Hear, hear.) We are passing into an era of world empires. Ever since the great Roman Empire was broken to fragments no successful attempt has been made to reconstitute a world empire. Charlemagne tried it in the ninth century; Napoleon tried it in our fathers' days; but both failed. Charlemagne's empire broke to pieces after his death, that of Napoleon during his life. (Hear, hear.) But Professor Seeley has warned us that there are at least two states page 12 —one in the east and one in the west—Russia and the United States—that have in them all the conditions of world dominion. Their territories are vast, their populations are numerous and rapidly increasing. They are bound together by unity of race, by language and by institutions; they have the instinct and the lust of empire. (Hear, hear.) That being the case, we have to face this problem:—The United States in 50 years will have a population of at least 100 millions, and the population of the Russian Empire, now 80 millions, will, if it increases at the same rate, reach the portentous total of 160 millions—I believe the one would prove our friend, the other our foe. (Hear, hear.) We see clearly that the next lead of Russia is upon India. (Hear, hear.) What are we going to do to keep pace with the advance of our enemy so as to have a hope of making a successful resistance to any attack ? (Hear, hear.) Now then, let me speak to young Australia. (Hear, hear.) Do try to get above the horizon of parochial politics. (Hear, hear.) I would repeat my warning, because in the time that is coming none but great states will be able to live. (Cheers.) The European Governments see that, and with quick instinct are preparing for the future. (Hear, hear.) What is the movement which has had the most influence in the last quarter of a century in Europe? what has caused its wars? what has excited its deepest impulses ? Why, the desire for unity, begun in Italy, and completed in Germany. (Cheers.) These states feel, and know, that they cannot live in the future, unless they are large enough, for it is an age of the renewal of universal empires; and so Germany, finding that she has done all the unification she can upon the home ground, is going forth into the world to enlarge the area of her dominions and increase the numbers of her children as colonists. (Hear, hear.) Bismarck knows what he is doing; he came to New Guinea, and has gone to Africa, with a purpose, and that purpose is to absorb, if he can, those territories, and to increase upon them, if he may, those that belong to the German people. (Hear, hear.) In times past European nations were like pipkins—all floating along a tributary stream—and when thrown together by the current and eddies, they were not much worse for the collision, but they and the tributary stream of human life that carries them are going to be thrown into the great ocean rivers—the Amazons of cosmic life—and there they will have to be knocked against the great iron pots of the United States and Russia, and it wants no prophet to tell what then will be the fate of the poor pipkins. (Laughter.) Now, those who are writing to our papers and telling us that Australia will be all the better for separation from England—("Hear, hear," and "No, no")—for then she could live, a kind of undisturbed Arcadia in the loneliness of the Southern Seas—those personscan never have thought of such conditions as were laid before you by Judge Holroyd. (Hear, hear.) How could the gentleman who moved the amendment say that the judge did not refer to the substance of his resolution. (Cheers.) He brought it out admirably, and showed you clearly that if a great power wants to gobble up a little one, it will very soon find cause for it. (Hear, hear.) It is only the old proverb of the lamb and the wolf. (Hear, hear.) If the lamb cannot be devoured for muddying the water above, it can be devoured for not doing it. (Hear, hear.) Depend upon this, if Germany—I say Germany because I don't want to be harping always upon our known enemies—(Hear, hear)—if Germany wanted Australia for the purpose of increasing her area and increasing the number of her forces for the awful world battle that she sees is coining, do you think she would stop because Australians are not Germans? (Laughter.) What were the Canadians?—Frenchmen. Did England stop because the Canadians were Frenchmen when she wanted to swallow up Canada? (Laughter.) Not she; she swallowed up Canada, and then she swamped the first colonists by alien colonists, and Germany would find no place on this globe so admirable a country to receive the overflow of her swarming hives as this great Australia of ours. (Cheers.) For, see what she would do. She would have here a strong German community, not enlisted under a foreign banner like the United States, but she would have them under her own flag, a splendid contingent of powerful men lying upon the flank of her great Eastern foe. (Hear, hear.) And, therefore, if we federate with the home Government we do this—we take security that we do not lie at the mercy of any power, page 13 whatever it be, that has the ambition, and thinks it feels the necessity, of enlarging its area and multiplying its people. (Cheers.) Another question I would like you to consider is this. Is it better for the world in general that England or that Germany should lead the future, should be the Venice of the future, with the sea for her streets? Well, I say in a moment, from obvious considerations, England—I mean, of course, as Mr. Justice Holroyd explained, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. (Loud cheers.) And why ? Because of her insular position, because of her colonies girdling the world, because of the nautical genius of her people, because of her enormous commerce. (Cheers.) But let us try this conclusion by applying it to two practical questions now being solved. Which is the race fittest to occupy the vacant spaces of the world and fittest to protect and to lead the backward races of the world? (A Voice : "The Anglo-Saxon," and cheers.) Let us take the first. Which is the fittest race to occupy the vacant spaces of the world ? Are we to say, whatever race it is, it is not the British : that it is best for us that we fall out of the rank of the leading and ruling people; that we suppress our instinct of empire, and make ourselves as comfortable as we can, each in his little corner, until we are swallowed up by the deluge of the great coming fight? Are we to say that we feel our strength waning with every year, or are we to say that we look upon the history of the mother of human freedom as the discipline of the British races for high service to mankind ? Do you British men feel yourselves worn out and your work done ?—("No, no!")—that you are members of an effeminate and emasculated race, that cannot lead the great files of humanity as they are marching on to freedom and happiness ? No! Do you feel that ? The man that says that knows nothing of the British people, and he is no true British man himself. (Cheers.) My friends, we are a great people, born to lead, born to teach, and to guide, and to bless, and therefore, because when we go into a country we try to establish institutions that are encouraging and conservative of freedom and civilisation, we are the fittest race to fill the vacant spaces of the world, and consequently are the fittest to help, to protect, and to guide the backward races of mankind. (Cheers.) Why do we cling to India? I daresay partly because we have it, and partly because we have the strong man's determination not to be driven out by insolent force—(cheers)—and also, and mainly I think and earnestly believe, because we feel that the British race has a beneficent mission in India. (Cheers.) We are keeping the crowded millions in that continent from falling into hopeless and destructive strife, and by wise legislation and just administration no truthful man can deny that we are largely contributing both to the moral and material development of the Indian people. (Cheers.) And shall we give up all that at the insolent demand of the Muscovite? ("No.") Shall we turn all those gentle Aryan brothers of ours over to the tender mercies of the Northern Bear, that with his iron claws he may tear to pieces at his leisure that fair fabric of civilisation which it has taken us a century to erect? No. If the Russian hordes come over the northern passes of India, we will hurl them back into their deserts. (Loud applause.) If we are the race that is fittest to fill up the vacant spaces of the world, and help the backward races, and if we desire the solidarity of British interests and British privileges all over the world, then I say we ought to have a voice in determining how those material interests shall be managed. (Cheers.) For, look, what is the alternative ? We must either separate from England in order to escape Imperial dangers, or federate with England to gain Imperial privileges. (Cheers.) And can we separate in this era of world kingdoms? ("No.") No, a thousand times no; because of the sentiment of patriotism, because of our enlightened self-interest, we cannot, we dare not separate. (Loud cheers.) What follows, logically? We make the union a more real union, and give more power of control and a better representation to those who are willing to spend their blood and their treasure in the defence of the whole. (Hear, hear.) One word more, and I have done. I have heard it said tonight, as I have heard it said before, that there are great difficulties connected with the subject. Of course there are. But how do we answer that? By doing as the mover of the amendment besought us? By throwing crude schemes before you ? No; that is not the way to proceed. We page 14 should ask,—Is the end we seek a great one, is it a necessary one, is the British race wherever it lives persuaded of that fact? Then, if it is so, difficulties are nothing but things to be overcome. (Cheers.) Look at what Bismarck did. He had to federate Germany. And what was Germany? A set of hostile kingdoms and principalities, which stood opposed to one another in arms, and had therefore inherited jealousies, suspicions, and hatreds, which are always begotten of such collisions. It was one of the hardest problems ever set to the human mind; but Bismarck said that Germany must and shall be one, and therefore found the means. Do you mean to tell me that we have no Bismarcks in the British race—that our statesmen are so degenerated that, given an end of supreme national importance, they cannot find a way to it ? Well, then, I say we shall have to make new leaders, or import them. (Cheers.) We are a great race, with a great past, with great faculties, and a great future, and we will have no leaders who show themselves unmindful of these facts. Therefore, I say, let England frankly recognise our power to legislate for our local affairs. And on the other hand, let it give to us, who are proved to be ready to make sacrifice in the common cause, an effective voice in the decision of such questions as what shall be the amount of our war contingent, and of our war contribution. Let it adopt some such Federal constitution as that suggested by the Government of the United States. By so doing, I believe that it might put an end to its Irish difficulties, and make the future of our race more glorious and more fruitful to the world of the blessings of peace and freedom, than ever its past has been.
The bishop resumed hi seat amid loud and prolonged applause.
Mr. Justice Holroyd briefly replied. He said:—Ladies and Gentlemen,—I don't wish to occupy more than two or three minutes of your time, but an amendment has been proposed which shows me that the character of this resolution has been by some profoundly misunderstood. (Hear, hear.) First of all, I ask nobody to concur in the resolution who is not convinced of its necessity. (Cheers.) And I endeavoured distinctly to intimate, in face of the difficulties that were before us, that if we adopted the resolution, if we believed the idea to be a true and right one, we nevertheless invited criticism and suggestions of all kinds, and did not attempt to impose upon anybody at this moment any particular scheme whatever. (Cheers.) We have got to seek for everything. We only say, that if we can federate, we want to find out how. (Cheers.) His Honor concluded by an earnest appeal to young Australians to honour the parents to whom they owed their birthplace, and the country from which those parents sprang.
The Chairman.—The mover of the amendment has complained that I did not read a letter conveying a resolution of the Australian Natives' Association, and which I was requested to communicate to the meeting. It was from the Melbourne Branch No. I of the Australian Natives' Association, and the reason why I did not read it was because, as I came on to the platform, I received a telegram from the Chairman of Directors of the whole Association, to a contrary effect, and as I had no desire to sow discord amongst that body, I decided to say nothing about either resolution or telegram; however, as the complaint has been made that it was unfair of me not to read the resolution, I will now place both before the meeting. The resolution is as follows :—"That, in the opinion of this branch, Imperial federation is inadvisable, and would entail a serious burden on, and curtail the privileges and independence at present enjoyed by the colonies." The telegram, which is signed by "Alexander J. Peacock, chairman, board of directors, Australian Natives' Association, runs thus:—"Should Melbourne branch resolution, re Imperial federation, be read, kindly explain that such a course is against rules last adopted, which provide that all branches' decisions on public topics be towarded through board of directors, the Association having been committed through branches' actions, which sometimes may be decided upon at a small meeting, without previous notice." (Cheers.) I hope the mover of the amendment will now be satisfied.
The amendment was then put, when about a dozen hands were held up in its favour, and when the question to the contrary was put, two-thirds of the meeting rose spontaneously to their feet. The motion was then put, and amid enthusiastic applause the Chairman declared it carried almost unanimously.page 15
The Chairman called upon Mr. G. H. F. Webb, Q.C., to move the next resolution.
"That for the purpose of influencing public opinion by showing the advantages which will accrue to the whole Empire from the adoption of such a system of organisation, a society be formed of men of all parties to advocate and support the principle of Federation." This resolution I have much pleasure in proposing, and I commend it to the hearty acceptance of this meeting. (Cheers.)
"The nightingale thought 'I have sung many songs,
But never a one so gay,
For he sings of what the world will be,
When the years have died away.'"
(Loud and prolonged cheering.)
The Mayor then put the resolution to the meeting, and declared that it was carried almost unanimously.
"That such a society be now formed under the rules of the Imperial Federation League, to be called the 'Victorian Branch of the Imperial Federation League.'"
It would be needless to say one word in addition to what has been so well said to-night to show the urgent necessity for the formation of our League to impose a peremptory check upon the tendency to separation from the mother country, if ever that tendency should unhappily be made manifest ("Hear, hear.") The necessity for our league has also been demonstrated by the fact that the English race has ever page 20 been the great civilising, the great educating race of the world, and that we have now a vast and growing empire, over which, as a mere matter of duty to its millions of inhabitants, that civilising and educating influence must be extended and intensified. (Cheers.) But this federation of Great Britain and her colonies, which by God's help, we intend to accomplish, will be unique, in one respect, in the world's history; for whereas all federations of which hitherto this world has held record—from the federation of the Heptarchy to the federation of the United States of America—have been brought to pass by pressure from without, with them the union has been in each case compelled by fear of a foreign foe, or by some external political influence; with them whatever organisation they have accomplished has been due to motives of necessity or of common safety; but in our case the difference is marked, as the call has not been from without but from within. (Loud cheers.) The federation that is asked for now is not generated of any fear of the great world empire of the East, or of the great world empire of the West—the one doubtless the foe, and the other the friend of our own dear country. No; the federation that we are, to-night, engaged in commencing, is a movement that represents an attempt on the part of the more thinking portion of the statesmen of the mother country and of the Australian colonies, to take one step higher in the great path of social development, to achieve a great measure of international reform by welding more closely the internal parts of the Empire, and so creating a great peace-compelling force respected by all nations of the earth. We may thus accomplish yet another phase in that truly imperial destiny which the British Empire has, it is to be hoped, only as yet entered upon, and make another advance in that great movement of Saxon energy which has gone on since the fourth or fifth century of our era, and, I trust, will go on for centuries to come. (Loud and prolonged cheering.)
The Chairman called upon Dr. P. Moloney to second the resolution.
Dr. Moloney said :—Mr. Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen,—At this late hour of the evening I will not attempt to inflict a speech upon you, but I will ask you, as I appear this evening, not officially—I may say accidentally—as a representative of the Australian Natives' Association—(cheers)—that you will allow me a few words of explanation, as I believe an explanation is necessary, because this is the first occasion upon which I have seen the people of that body apparently separating themselves into anything like parties. That this separation is not a real one I feel sure, and I feel certain, from some conversation with Australians after this meeting was advertised, that a section, and a very important section, of the Victorian community have come here this evening under not so much a misunderstanding, as a misinterpretation, of the whole situation. When I was asked a few days ago to come here and join a meeting for the furtherance of Imperial federation, I gladly consented. (Cheers.) I have been, I think, almost from the very beginning one of the members of the Australian Natives' Association. That association has been now some 14 years in existence. It is a non-political, non-religious body, and among its various excellent objects, such as charity, intellectual converse and amusement, it has at heart the brotherhood and federation of Australia. (Cheers.) Now, there is nothing, I think, more necessary for the defence and progress and future commercial success of Australia than this very federation. I have always thought so. Some years ago I appeared on a public platform, and with, I think, proper courage, expressed the same sentiments, which then exposed me to some obloquy. I am not here to take part in Imperial as against Colonial federation, and I ask those members of the Australian Natives' Association who are present to bear with me for just a few moments more. It is undeniable, and the latest school of historians have come to the conclusion which they have made axiomatic, that of all things determining the future of any race, climate, soil, and geographical position are the true factors. We live not only under a different sky, but in a different hemisphere from our ancestors, and Australia is large enough to contain several distinct nationalities. I believe that before many years have passed away we shall see the impress on each of the Australian colonies of a distinctive colonial nationality. Mr. FitzGibbon has spoken truly of the jealousy between the different colonies, espe- page 21 cially between New South Wales and ourselves; but the very existence of that jealousy is a proof that if Imperial Federation is necessary, so also is Australian Federation. (Cheers.) Another reason for our coming here this evening, is that, except for a political attempt which was certainly not a great success, the people here have never made an attempt at any form of Federation; and I conclude, and I think rightly, though I am prepared to be corrected, that Federation is necessary, and that it may be found easier to secure the larger Federation of the empire at first than the smaller one of a single continent. If the Australian natives do not believe in Imperial Federation, I am prepared to throw in my lot with them. But I cannot think that our worthy Mayor and those who have come here to speak to this representative meeting of colonists, would ask us to take a leap in the dark. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) I am quite content, for my own part, to leave the future of Australia with those gentlemen whom I see on the platform. (Cheers.) And further, I am sure that the natives of Australia are prepared to do so as well. A little explanation only is required. We are now—and I am speaking to the students of history—in almost the same relation to England that the American colonies were a little more than a century ago, and of all the statesmen who have adorned the English House of Commons, the greatest, Edmund Burke, was wont to preach what we try to practice. (Cheers.) He held that the American colonies should be regarded as friends—that they should have their own State Legislature, and the right of taxation conferred upon themselves. In other words, Burke preached a behaviour of the Imperial Government towards the English colonies at that time which, if carried out, would have left them in the same, or closer, that is Federated relationship to the mother country than we are now. (Cheers.) It is difficult to know what to say upon the question at the present time. We are met rather to give expression to a sentimental emotion, and the British are not a very sentimental people, but when they do give way to sentiment, it means a great deal. I would like to say this. I am sure everybody must see that we Australians have passed through the stage of patronage, and would gladly see changed that attitude of—what shall I call it?—not of hostility, it is not that, but of contemptuous indifference displayed towards us by the Home Government, and the very latest statement on this subject, which I read only to-day, is confirmatory of our complaint It will be found in the last number of the Quarterly Review, and that Review goes line for line, and step by step with the views of Edmund Burke. I say to those gentlemen, I myself have lived here, and have felt hurt when visitors from the old country have shown an inclination to treat Australians with what the showman might call "contemporaneous disgust." But that attitude is passing or has passed away; Great Britain and Ireland are beginning to understand us. We always understood them, and believed in them. So much has this understanding increased that, to give a common instance, no sooner does a marriageable Australian girl appear than the horizon is immediately clouded with young Englishmen. (Cheers, and laughter.) I believe in reciprocity, and I hope that young Victorians will imitate this at the Antipodes, and that our Antipodean sons and daughters will, at at any rate, continue their marriage federation. I am sure the feeling expressed by some in this hall to-night is not so much a feeling of hostility, as what, by altering an expression, I might confidently call the "dissidence of assent" Australians think that strangers are too ready to preach to them. Young men are bumptious, and if they are not bumptious they will not turn out to be much. Irritability is a sign of growth. America had its irritabilities, and so have we, and we will till we have become a real nation. However, I think there is not the slightest doubt that from this movement the bond between Australia and the mother country will be closer and closer—(Cheers)—and if those gentlemen who came out from the old land are proud of being the fathers of Australians, the sons and daughters of Australia are no less proud of them. (Loud cheers.) But Australia would ask those gentlemen who read us our lessons, if, while there is a commandment "Honour thy father and thy mother," there is not also one of which we here wish to appreciate, the observance, viz., "Honour thy son and thy daughter. (Cheers and laughter.) Gentlemen, I have much pleasure in seconding this resolution. I do it in the thorough hope that it will be the means of cementing more closely Australia and the mother country, as well as of cementing more closely the Aus page 22 tralian colonies one to the other. (Loud cheers.)
The motion was carried unanimously, amidst loud cheers.
"That, to give effect to the foregoing resolution, a provisional committee shall be appointed, to consist of the following gentlemen, with power to add to their number, viz.:—The Mayor of Melbourne, the Bishop of Melbourne, Mr. Justice Holroyd, Mr. E. Langton, Mr. G. H. F. Webb, Mr. J. L Purves, Dr-Moloney, Professor Elkington, Mr. John Blyth. Councillor J. Wilks, Mr. R. G. Benson, Mr. M. Lang. Mr. R. Balderson, Mr. J. M'Dougall, Mr. Andrew Rowan, Mr. D. Bennett, Mr. A. G. M'Intyre, Mr. J. E. Phillips, Mr. C. J. Fairfield, Mr. T. L Parker, Mr. H. U. Alcock, Mr. E. G. FitzGibbon and the mover."
I have great satisfaction in committing this resolution to the meeting, and I feel sure that in the hands of a representative committee such as is contemplated by the resolution, the Imperial federation question will be well launched upon the Victorian public. I am pleased (if, as we suppose, the time has arrived for initiating a scheme of Impend federation)—that New South Wales has not cut the ground from under our feet in this act of patriotism. I feel that the Australian natives who objected to the proposal in the early part of the meeting ought to have acted more consistently, and have hesitated before they appeared in the way they did before such a large and representative meeting as this. A few weeks ago these Australians lauded to the skies the action page 23 of the sister colony in sending away a battalion of men to cat the throats of the Soudanese who were fighting for their liberty, and here where they are called upon to adopt a resolution for Imperial federation, a measure intended for their own protection, they object to the principle. I feel convinced that federation will soon be brought about. Speaking as an Irishman by birth, but as an Australian by adoption, I would draw the sword tomorrow, and there are thousands of the brawny sons of toil of this colony who would follow me—(cheers)—to maintain that Imperial connexion which I trust will not be interfered with. We have nothing to fear for the scheme propounded, either in England or the colonies. If any attempt were made to interfere with the privileges and the growing prosperity of these colonies there is not a man who would not stand up against even the mother country itself. They would follow the sentiments of that great statesman Edmund Burke, who told the Imperial Parliament that if they did anything to jeopardise the growing power of their splendid young colonies they would be shedding their own life blood. "Do justice," said on his death-bed that great and brilliant statesman the night before he passed away for ever, "Do justice to America; do it to-night; do it before you sleep, or have a care that the brightest page of your history may not be written in your hearts blood." (Cheers.) There is not one who would subscribe his name to that but would give the same advice to the Imperial authorities to-morrow, and therefore it is that I ask every true British man in this grand Assembly, whether he hails from Scotland, England, or the Emerald Isle, from which I come, and whose every blade of grass that grows on her green hills is dear to me, to be true to the resolutions passed here to-night for upholding the glory of the British Empire.
Councillor Wilks was called upon to second the resolution. He said Ladies and Gentlemen,—At this late hour I shall not attempt to say all that I wished to say on this subject, for it is one to which I have given considerable attention, and so long ago as last January, I wrote a letter to The Argus, urging the formation of a branch of the Imperial Federation League; therefore, I feel I can justly claim that my hearty sympathy is with this movement. (Hear, hear.) But at this late hour, and after the eloquent speeches to which we have listened with pleasure and with profit, it would be almost impertinent for me to trespass on your forbearance. As there appears to be some small show of opposition to the resolutions, however, I cannot refrain from expressing my conviction that the few young Australians who have here expressed their disapprobation of the movement have done so under a misapprehension as to the facts, and I am sure after this meeting they will hold with us that Imperial federation is a necessity for the Empire, as well for us Australians as for our fathers and brothers at home. (Cheers.) There are two important facts which I would invite the opponents of Imperial federation to consider in their bearing upon this great question. At the present time there are about 10 millions of the English-speaking race in the colonies of Great Britain, and yet they have no voice in the Imperial Council; and I would like to say in opposition to the gentleman who moved the amendment to the first resolution, that in my opinion it is high time those 10 millions of British subjects had some voice in the great questions of war and peace, if in no other. (Loud cheers.) I say further it is high time that we did what I am perfectly sure every young Australian will be ready to admit we ought to do, when he comes to consider it, viz., that we should be prepared, not only to stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow-Britons, at home, but also to put our hands into our pockets and pay our share of the cost of maintaining the integrity of the Empire, and protecting our Australian shores and commerce. (Hear and cheers.) To whom do we look to maintain the commerce of these colonies in case of aggression from foreign nations—a commerce which represents one-eighth of the entire commerce of Great Britain ? To whom did we look for protection of our commerce when war appeared to be imminent between England and Russia a few weeks ago? What was our first thought? "Where is the British fleet?" (Hear, hear, and cheers.) "What is the strength of the Australian squadron?" (Hear, hear.) But what right have we to look for these fleets outside the Heads, what right have we to ask them to protect us, unless we are prepared to pay a portion of page 24 the expenditure ? (Hear, hear.) What right have we to ask the mother country, already overburdened with taxation and an enormous national debt, to undertake the whole cost of the defence of the Empire and its commerce? It is a mistake to call these colonies "dependencies" of the Empire. (Hear, hear.) They are not "dependencies," but integral parts of that Empire in common with the mother country, and the 10 millions of British-speaking people in the colonies ought to be prepared, and, I believe, are prepared to share with the 35 millions in the British islands the cost of maintaining the British navy, which is for the defence, not only of Great Britain and Ireland, but of the Empire at large. (Cheers.) I believe that the gentlemen who have been nominated to the Committee, to carry out the resolutions already passed by this meeting, are the right men in the right place. (Hear, hear.) But you will notice the resolution states that the Committee will have power to add to their number; and I am sure I can call to mind many men, both Australian natives and colonists who come from the old land, who would also be glad to join the Committee; and if they are too modest to come forward themselves, as probably they will be, I hope their friends will nominate them, in order that this may be a large and representative working committee, to bring forth the full fruit of this great meeting. (Cheers) I also heartily second the portion of this resolution which tenders the thanks of the meeting to the Mayor of Melbourne for bringing this question of Imperial Federation before the citizens of the metropolis, enabling Victoria in this instance at least to take the foremost place among the Australian colonies as being prepared to stretch out the hand to old England and say, "We are ready to Federate." (Loud cheers.) In all the discussions in England on this question of Imperial Federation, and there have been a great many [unclear: of] some of the foremost men have said-[unclear: "Ih] not well for us to press Federation upon [unclear: t] colonies; let the proposal come from [unclear: th] first." (Hear, hear.) And now that we have met together and made known our views [unclear: as] opinions, I would make this suggestion [unclear: t] our worthy Mayor, viz., that the result of [unclear: th] great and magnificent meeting be telegraph home, that they may know there [unclear: a] thousands of hearts beating in unison [unclear: in] sympathy with theirs, and ready to [unclear: stand] with them whatever may come, [unclear: determine] that whether it be war or peace, our [unclear: Empir] shall stand, and never be beaten down by [unclear: an] foe. (Loud and prolonged cheering.)
The Mayor said Ladies and Gentlemen—Before I put the resolution, allow [unclear: me] thank the mover and seconder very much [unclear: i] their kind allusions to me, and also to [unclear: that] you, ladies and gentlemen, for the [unclear: hea] manner in which you were good [unclear: enough] manifest your approval of the sentiments they expressed. I felt I was taking a very great responsibility in convening this meeting, but I think I may fairly claim that the result is a sufficient justification of my conduct, and I can certainly assure you it [unclear: is] more than ample reward. (Cheers.) [unclear: One] word more before I put the resolution-and it is this—pending the society, which you have now formed, obtaining offices of its own, any persons desiring to join the Association, can do so in the Town Hall Offices. (Hear, hear.) It will be manifest to you that we must not let this work stop here. (Hear hear.) We want thousands of members throughout the whole colony, and we want to spread the gospel of Federation through [unclear: o] the whole of Australia. (Cheers.)
The resolution, on being put to the meeting, was carried unanimously.
This concluded the business of the meeting and as the audience departed, Mr. David Lee played the National Anthem on the great organ.