Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Nation Making, a story of New Zealand

Chapter XXXII. — Young Nations

page 287

Chapter XXXII.
Young Nations.

As we see ourselves:—Botany Bay.—The Cannibal Islands.—Opossum and Kangaroo.—Fern root and each other.—Then.—Now.—Four million Englishmen.—A hundred million Sheep.—Not afraid to Borrow.—Able to Repay.—The English of the English.—'The old order changeth.'—Australasia for the Australasians.—Colonial Intellect.—Southern Sunshine.—Faith in the Future.—A Big Graving Dock.—H.M. 'Calliope' and 'Diamond.'—War ships of All Nations.—Our Enterprises sneered at.—Newspaper Reproaches.—The Imperial spirit.—We go on our Way.—Immigration needed of the Right Kind.—John Chinaman not wanted.—A mixture of Races.—A parochial spirit.—Four hundred Millions and Four Millions.—The Colonies held for our Kin.—Solution of Chinese Difficulty.—A fair Record.

During the first century of the life of Australasia we have done a great work, and a good work. We have laid the foundations of Nations.

A hundred years ago Captain Cook found our Southern world a desert, inhabited by straggling tribes of wild men—in Australia hunting the opossum and the kangaroo, in New Zealand living on fern root and each other. Then, and for long after, Botany Bay and the Cannibal Islands were the terror of evil-page 288doers, and not to the liking of them that wanted an opportunity to do well. The desert continent and the forest-clad islands long remained much as Nature made them—untrodden by the White man, his sheep or cattle. The savage inhabitants produced no one article which a civilized man could eat or sell.

To-day, nearly four millions of Englishmen, a hundred million sheep, and countless herds of cattle and horses are amongst the first fruits of this one century, whilst Australasian wool, mutton, wheat, and wine take high rank in the markets of the world, and New Zealand produces, acre for acre, heavier harvests of wheat, oats, and potatoes than almost any other country.

A hundred years ago the frail bark skiff of the Australian savage and the war canoe of the Maori were the forerunners of the navies which now sweep across the wide waters of the Pacific. Then, the Gunyah, the Whare, and the fortified Pah were the sole representatives of architecture in Australasia. To-day, houses, schools, churches, colleges, and palaces are to be found within its wide dominion. Then, the savage Corroberee and the Maori Runanga were the sole precursors of our courts of justice and halls of legislation. Then, a few faint tracks worn by naked feet were the rude forerunners of the roads, bridges, and railways of to-day. Then, not an ounce of mineral was known to exist. To-day, we own and work the richest gold and silver mines in the world.

Then, Australasia owed nothing to the world outside, and the world owed nothing to her. To-day, she page 289owes a public debt of a hundred and seventy millions sterling, and in return has provided an English home for a hundred millions of English-speaking people in the future.

We are justly proud of what we have done. We have not been afraid to borrow, and we are in no doubt of our power to repay. We have, it is true, drawn largely—too largely—upon the future. But in all this have we not given abundant evidence of an Imperial spirit? In this sunny South we have faced and conquered difficulties and dangers, of which those who come after us will know nothing, except what history tells them.

In doing all this, is it strange that we regard ourselves as amongst 'the English of the English?' and like our ancestors of old, are steadfastly engaged in the heroic work of Nation Making, though under new conditions.

In times not long past, the countries we occupy were names of fear or terror to our countrymen who stayed at home at ease. Then anything was thought good enough for the colonies. But in this, as in other things, 'The old order changeth.' The founders of these young, strong nations have not laboured in vain. Our voice is making itself heard in the Councils of the Empire, and in the coming time, whatever France or Germany may do, neither of them will eventually rule in the Pacific. The potent voice of our American kindred has already cried 'Hold,' to an attempted exercise of tyranny. It will be heard again, should occasion demand it. Unless the Chinese immigration page 290question be allowed to drift, the inhabitants of the Austral continent and its adjacent islands intend to be paramount in these Southern Seas. Our watchword is, and will be:

'Australasia for the Australasians.'

There is no boasting in all this. It is our present policy, and will be our future history.

Who are these Australasians? or, rather, who will they be? Are they merely the four million pioneers now occupying the fifth, and possibly the richest, continent of the world? They will be, as the London 'Spectator' says, 'the fifty millions who, in another century, will dwell there.'

With much of the climates of Greece and Italy the intellects of Australasians will not be dimmed, nor their bodies dwarfed by the fogs and cold of the North. The glorious Southern sunshine will surely enter their souls and gild their lives.

We breathe a sunnier and a purer atmosphere. Freedom and sympathy are in the air. We do not, perhaps, love ourselves less, but we love our fellows more. Our workmen labour shorter hours, and for better pay, than their fellows at Home.

The present generation of Australasians, few though we be, have given abundant evidence of our faith in the future of our country. We have made roads, say if you will, for our own requirements, but, like the old Roman roads, they will remain for long ages after those who bravely dared the perils of the page 291trackless wilderness, have passed away. Our railroads, our telegraph lines, our fortifications, our far-reaching educational systems, in like manner benefit ourselves in a measure; but of how much more advantage will they be to the coming millions, who will enter into and benefit by our labours? The latest instance of our perception of the needs of the present and of the requirements of the future, is manifested by the construction of the largest graving dock in the Southern Hemisphere, in the port of Auckland, New Zealand. In February, 1888, Governor Sir William Jervois opened this great dock, which has length and depth to accommodate with ease the largest ship in Her Majesty's navy, and into which, Admiral Fairfax on the day of opening passed two of H.M. warships—the 'Calliope' and 'Diamond'—both lying stem and stern together within its massive walls, under cover of the batteries which defend the harbour.

'Thrown like a shield in front of Australia,' to quote the words of Sir W. Jervois, New Zealand occupies a post of honour and of danger, which the construction of this great dock, shows that it is ready to hold, unless overpowered by a hostile naval power, when the dock would become the nucleus of a great naval station from which to conquer New Zealand, harass Australia, and dominate the Pacific.

With a munificence as Imperial as the spirit which led to its conception and construction, this great dock has been declared open to the warships, not only of Her Majesty's navy, but to the war vessels of all page 292nations, and to Government vessels of every British colony free from all dock dues for all time.

Have we Australasians constructed this noble work for our own benefit only? No; we have practically done this deed for the benefit of every Briton throughout the world; for, as a blow struck anywhere hurts the whole, directly or indirectly, so a great work of this kind benefits, more or less, every man in any part of the world-wide Imperial dominions, as well as foreigners who, though benefiting by our dock, may afterwards batter down our city.

The little homes where we dwell—often built of wood—will perish like the houses of the Greeks and Egyptians of old. But such works as this Imperial Dock, like the Temples and Pyramids, but more useful than they, will remain an everlasting memorial of a form of Nation Making nobler than theirs.

The enterprise which has successfully carried out this, and a thousand other great works, is sneered at. We Australasians are taunted with our one hundred and seventy millions of indebtedness. Influential English newspapers reproach us even for our adversity, as though that was not largely caused by the one-sided Freetrade policy of England, which, by stimulating production in every country but her own, is not only impoverishing foreign producers, but is grievously injuring and ruining numbers of her own children everywhere.

We Australasians are English people, however, and though we resent these taunts and reproaches—as unworthy of those who make them, as they are page 293offensive to those at whom they are hurled,—and though the English money-lender gets his interest, and the Australasian borrower gets no proportional equivalent in his own lifetime—unless indeed, submission to heavy taxation for the construction of works, which can only benefit in a small degree the present generation, be an equivalent—we are English people, as I have said, and therefore content to let our deeds speak. We shall not permit a not unnatural resentment to destroy the Imperial spirit which has animated us hitherto, and notwithstanding adversity and reproaches, we shall go on our way, doing as best we may, the work of Nation Making which lies before us.

We want a great migration to set in to our shores, but we want it to be of the right sort. We neither want English paupers nor English criminals. We do not want too many Chinamen, for instance. And yet we are told by our countrymen at home, who are complaining of the immigration of Germans into London, but who have hardly ever seen a Chinaman, that we are parochial and narrow in our desire to restrict the immigration of Chinese into Australasia. And yet the Germans are of our own blood, are frugal and industrious, are home lovers, and will gradually become English-speaking people, greatly to the advantage of the nation.

But a Chinaman will never become a colonist in any true sense. He has good qualities, the chief of which are thrift and industry He has gathered some millions of gold in the colonies, a large portion of which has found its way to China. He is a skilful producer page 294of vegetables, but a great nation, or a young nation which means to be great, must have a more solid foundation than an onion or a cabbage.

We Australasians may, I think, be pardoned if, whilst we welcome to our shores our countrymen from home, as well as Americans, Germans, French, Italians and Scandinavians, we resolutely refuse to be overrun by Mongolian hordes from China.

We fully recognize that a mixture of races in the long past, has perhaps done more than any other single cause to make the English Nation what it is to-day, and that a mixture of breeds, on a still grander scale, is now producing similar, nay greater, results in the United States. We know that a mingling of races—if of the right sort—will eventually produce in Australasia a grand English-speaking race, which will some day play a great part all through these Southern Seas.

We do not want, therefore, to be made the victims of blundering British treaties, which, by permitting the irruption of Chinese into Australasia, threaten us with destruction.

If fifty thousand Chinamen were to migrate to Great Britain and Ireland, we should find how promptly those portions of the Empire would develope a narrow parochial spirit, not very dissimilar to that with which we are reproached. But John Chinaman knows better than to migrate to countries where money, fogs, and poverty contend for the mastery. He prefers more Southern climates. He loves the sunshine, and, like the rest of mankind, he loves the gold, and he migrates page 295to lands where he knows both are to be found in abundance.

The Chinese are four hundred millions strong, whilst we Australasians do not to-day number four millions. We do not want these fair lands to be overrun by Chinamen. We mean to hold these bright English homes as heritages for our descendants, and for the millions of our countrymen and others of like blood, who, one of these days, will be inspired by the subtle impulse of a migratory instinct, and, like swarms of bees, will surely move from the parent hives. The 'how' or the 'when' may not yet appear, though the 'why' is becoming apparent enough.

We desire to retain the control whilst we can. To this end we require the treaties with China to be so modified or interpreted that the number of British subjects entering the Treaty ports in any one year shall be the number of Chinese permitted to enter Australasia, and all other parts of the British dominions in the following year, and so on year by year.

The Chinese Government does not, as yet, favour the emigration of its people. What may happen, when large numbers of the people in China become animated by the modern Western idea of 'the power of the common people,' and are made aware by their returning countrymen of the sunshine and the gold of the Australasian Colonies, it is not difficult to foresee.

I repeat, we want to check the progress of these semi-dormant hordes whilst we may. If nothing be done now, it may, at no far-off day, be beyond our page 296power to restrain the coming multitudes without bloodshed or other violent means. If it can be restricted now, by peaceful negotiation whilst we are few, in half a century, Australasians will be strong enough to hold this noble English heritage against all unwelcome comers as Makers of young Nations.

This short account of some of our deeds and aspirations, as far as it goes, is a fair record of how we appear to ourselves. Nevertheless, we need what Burns prayed for—

To see ourselves as others see us.