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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

The Colonies and Dependencies of the British People

The Colonies and Dependencies of the British People.

The possessions of the British people extend over somewhat more than nine million square miles, and are inhabited by 320 million persons of all nationalities and religions. They embrace the three immense countries of Australia, Canada, and India, each nearly the size of all Europe, and 69 territories and islands in the two hemispheres. It seems incredible that this immense dominion, which covers nearly a sixth part of the habitable globe, and is administered by over 50 different governments, subordinate, in Imperial concerns, to that sitting at Westminster, has been acquired by a people now numbering scarcely more than 36 millions, and occupying but one-seventieth portion of the empire. This empire, five times the size of the Persian Empire under Darius, four times that of the page 8 Roman under Augustus, an eighth larger than All the Russias, three times the size of the United States, forty four times that of France, forty-three times that of Germany, is what has been bequeathed to us by our fathers.

These are the fruits of the victories of Marlborough and Wellington, of the genius of former statesmen. This is what we have to show for the indebtedness of the country, which sinks by comparison into insignificance. But in proportion as we gratefully admire the work of former heroes in the senate and the field, and reap the fruits of their courage and wisdom, must we deplore the madness of those who, invested with a brief season of power, lost to Great Britain the vast continent now occupied by fifty million Americans. Had it not been for this black spot on the shield of history a great confederacy of the Anglo-Saxon race would long since have been an accomplished fact.

We cannot dwell as we should, with more time at command, upon the special features of each of the continents, the territories, and the islands, where the sovereignty of the British people proclaims to all men—whatever their faith or colour—freedom of action, freedom of speech, freedom of commerce. But we may glance separately, though briefly, at the leading characteristics of each of the five great groups into which the empire beyond the seas is divided. Let us consider them in this order:—
1.The Australasian Colonies.
2.The North-American Colonies represented by Canada.
3.The South African Colonies.
4.The Indian Empire.
5.The West Indies.