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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

The West Indian Possessions

The West Indian Possessions.

Time was when their value and importance was far in advance of their position to-day. Of the fifteen principal ones, Jamaica is the chief and in some measure holds its place. Large fortunes were made in by-gone times. But the abolition of forced labour and the creation of a free people, has changed the course of events. An improvement is confidently expected in the early future, and it is to be hoped that Parliamentary efforts may be directed to that end.

We have thus been led rapidly through the five principal regions in which the sovereignty of the British people holds sway. We have not been able to tarry at numerous trading stations over which flies the Union page 14 Jack. Nor have we had time to stop at the fortresses and military posts which the far-seeing wisdom of our ancestors acquired to secure us in the possession of their legacy. Of such we have Gibraltar guarding the mouth of the Mediterranean, Aden commanding the entrance to the Red Sea, Singapore holding the gate between the China Sea and the Indian Ocean, and Hongkong watching the broad surface of the Sea of Japan. Then we have the Falkland Islands to watch over the stormy rounding of Cape Horn, St. Helena the tomb of fallen greatness, and last, but not least, the now prosperous Island of Cyprus.

We see, truly, that our empire is one on which the sun never sets, and on some portion of which summer is ever present. We can almost hear the applause of the American Senate as their greatest orator spoke half a century ago of "Britain, that great country, who has illuminated the surface of the whole globe with her possessions and military posts, whose morning drum beats following the sun in his rising, and keeping company with the hours, encircles the earth with one continuous and unbroken strain of the martial airs of England."

I must now trespass upon your attention while we briefly survey