ONE dream of the earliest poets has never quite faded from the minds of men. Foretold by prophet and seer; vaguely described in popular myth ; lyingfar back in some ideal past, or yet to be realized in the distant future by the triumph of religion or the gift of the higher powers, somewhere past or to come is a golden age, a wide community of men in all that is highest and best, free from the common ills of life, under the protection of some beneficent power, — a world state, may we say, whose officers shall be peace, and her exactors righteousness.” This is a dream that has visited the poet in his moment of inspiration, or the common man under the Stimulus of contrasted evils, or prophet and priest through the sight of faith ; but can we venture to say of our own age that, first of all generations, it has begun to look forward, at least in some half-conscious way, to such a conclusion of time no longer as a dream of the imagination merely, but as the vision of a possibility, from the standing-ground of facts and sustained with reasons ? The unity of mankind, the smallness of the earth, the swiftness of communication, and the growth of world-wide interests, — these things are certainly making familiar to our thoughts the fact that the necessary conditions of this result already exist.
Some such consideration as this it is which lifts the story of the century’s expansion of our race — in itself the most wonderful of all time — above the level of common history. As the story of a mere expansion, which leads to nothing more, complete in itself, like that of Greece in the ancient world or that of Spain at the beginning of the modern, it is worth telling only for the moment’s interest. Considered as the first stage of a yet wider expansion, as first steps to a kindly domination of the world, which may easily result, this century’s expansion of our race links itself with the most far-reaching thoughts and the highest aspirations of mankind.
The empire of our race is indeed not the first vast empire. History tells us more or less definitely of many others. It begins with them, in fact; for the Old Testament, the one textbook of the earliest history of the world for so many generations, gives us dim notions of their great extent, growing more real to us in these days through the deciphering of their monuments, their long lists of subject peoples, and the reports of the governors of distant provinces. The Middle Ages also had their vague ideas of great empires, purely imaginary like that of Prester John, or real like Genghis Khan’s or Timour’s; but these remain hardly more than names of wide but indefinite expansion. Were they more real to us, we should find them continental and vast, but not world states in any true sense, nor giving promise at any time of permanence.
Of all the great empires of the past, one only stands before these later times as a definite existence, and it alone has exerted a powerful influence upon the course of known history. Its outlines may be clear to us because it is near us in time and in geography, but there is another reason for the profound and permanent impression which it has left behind it. In the century which preceded the final conquests of the Roman republic, the world had been constantly growing smaller. Developing commerce and increasing intercourse and knowledge had created a community of interests and of civilization for all men within reaching distance of the central sea, the Mediterranean. This community of nations Rome overcame by the superiority of her military genius; but she did more than this: by the skill of her political government and the justice of her laws she moulded it into one great state, — a true world state, for it embraced the whole civilized world of that time. This was a far greater achievement than the work of conquest, and this it was which gave to Rome her permanent influence upon all the later destinies of mankind.
What the third century B. C. did for the ancient world the nineteenth century has done for the globe as a whole. It has made it small and it has made it one. It has created a community of interests and of civilization as close as that which bound together the Mediterranean lands in the last age of their independence. This work of the nineteenth century stands among its greatest achievements. Our conception of the world was not possible to the man of a hundred years ago. Even Washington thought he had advised us against every dangerous foreign policy when he warned us against the entangling politics of Europe,— as if we could have no temptations in the world outside that continent. With the process of this change we are familiar, — exploration and colonization, the enormous development of commerce, the revolution in the means of intercommunication, steam and electricity; and with the results as well, — world prices, world news, world politics, and the rest.
The question rises irresistibly, Is this process to go a stage further ? Is there to be, as in the ancient case, a world empire, not perhaps of centralized and despotic rule, but so mighty and widespread, so powerful on every continent, so free within and so just and generous without, that it shall stand at the head of the world without a rival, to keep peace unbroken, to teach the most powerful nations laws and institutions, to guide the more backward along the way of right growth, and to prepare the realization of mankind’s long dream ? This question no man can answer. But this we know : one race, and one alone, has kept even pace through the nineteenth century with the growth of this world community. It has planted itself on every continent; it rules every sea, dominates the world’s commerce, transmits the world’s news, and is teaching all men its language and institutions.
The expansion of the race during the nineteenth century alone has given it this position. But little more than a hundred years ago it seemed to all the world that the imperial age of the Anglo-Saxons had closed forever. The dominion of the race, up to that date, had been of slow but steady growth. It had its dawn more than three hundred years ago in the struggle of the little mother kingdom with the colossal power of Spain, — a struggle for religion and independence which made a truly heroic age, however rough-hewn. But it was not an age of expansion except in daring and in knowledge. The dominion of England, at its close, was only over her own half of the island and over a part of Ireland. In the first half of the seventeenth century, real foundations of empire began to be laid in the colonies from which the United States has grown. At the same time wider interests began to arise, across distant seas which had become familiar in the conflict with Spain. By the middle of that century some vague ideas of the possibilities of the future were rising in the minds of Englishmen, and there was more of definite purpose in the struggle with their second great rival, Holland, than in that with Spain. It was not entirely, however, the growing ambition of England which destroyed the power of the Dutch. It was quite as much the vainglory of the Grand Monarch ; for, closing his ears to the warning of Spain, that England was really the rising power of the future which ought to be feared, he brought France into alliance with her greatest rival to destroy her one most indispensable ally. Victory in the Dutch wars broadened and strengthened the commercial power of England. Her colonies in America were growing into a great dominion, and she possessed stations in the Eastern seas and in the West Indies. Then came the long rivalry and the desperate struggle with France, evenly balanced for two generations, and hardly settled for a century and a quarter. Just past the middle of the eighteenth century, this conflict seemed to end in triumph like the others, in the acquisition of great dominions, for those days, in India and America, with the victories of Clive and the capture of Quebec. All her rivals had now gone down in succession before the vising power of England, and she might well believe herself, and be thought by the world, to have reached the height of imperial position.
Then followed the American Revolution. A great civil war split the empire in two. The only really successful colonies of England, actively assisted by all three of her defeated colonial rivals, separated from the mother country, and established themselves as an independent nation after a conflict which left bitter memories on both sides. It seemed at first sight the end of things. No one could then expect that there would be any further English colonizing within the limits of the revolted colonies, and there was little prospect of it elsewhere. The Anglo-Saxon empire appeared about to follow the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Dutch, and the French into decline and decay.
This was practically the situation a hundred years ago.
The new nation which the Revolution had created possessed, indeed, an imperial territory, though it reached at that time only to the Mississippi, but the greater part of it was still a wilderness. Only a few pioneers had begun to force their difficult way through the passes of the mountains, and to form scanty settlements along the rivers which were their only means of communication. Nothing as yet gave evidence of that unprecedented growth which was, before the close of a century, to place the United States at the head of all the colonizing nations of ancient or modern times. During almost the whole first decade of their existence, the States were occupied with the task of finding a form of government which would make their national existence secure. Still longer time was required before the young nation began to command the respect of the world, and it was some years past its majority before the fact became manifest that expansion of territory, population, and wealth was to go on here at an unparalleled rate, — an expansion to which all the nations of Europe, England included, were to contribute ; that in the Western world, by a new combination of the original elements, Celtic and Teutonic, but a combination under vastly more favorable conditions than the original one of fourteen hundred years before, a new Anglo-Saxon race was to be created, — new in its immediate traditions and in its outlook upon the future, but Anglo-Saxon in all the essential elements of race, in blood, ideas, and institutions.
If the outlook for the United States was without particular promise, the prospect of any new colonization by England might well seem almost hopeless. There was now no place left for the English colonist where be could be under the protection of his own government and find something like the conditions of his home except in the Canadian provinces, and there the future was not alluring. Wild and bleak, occupied by an alien population, of a race and religion long hostile, Canada could not be very attractive to the Englishman wishing to found a new home for his posterity. The only colony which England retained within the temperate zone, when she had recognized the independence of the United States, gave every indication that its progress would be slow ; and so slow did it really prove to be that the total European population of British North America, at the end of a generation, had not reached half a million.
It was the general judgment of the world, with one or two notable exceptions, that the American Revolution had prevented for all time the threatened supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race. It is evident that such an opinion was perfectly natural. But we can now see, as was not then apparent, that the division of the race was the necessary condition of its advancement to the commanding position which it occupies to-day. Had England retained possession of the thirteen colonies, it is scarcely possible that the emigrant labor and capital of Europe would have poured into our lands as they have. Our frontier settlements might be now nearing the Mississippi, but could hardly be beyond it, and it is more than likely that all the territory of our second great annexation would still be under the rule of the Latin race. So far, also, as the other half of our race is concerned, if England had possessed the most of the North American continent, it is practically certain that Australia and New Zealand would have fallen to Franee, and that the English occupation of Africa would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible. The blow which the old régime in France spent its last gasp to deliver, thinking to destroy the supremacy of England, opened the way to a greater empire than could otherwise have been attained.
The first step in the construction of this new empire followed almost immediately on the conclusion of peace with the United States, but it carried with it at that time no promise of real expansion. Vague notions of a great colonial possibility in the unknown island continent of the South Seas had been floating about Europe since early in the eighteenth century, but no colonial venture had been made in Australia before 1787, and none would have been made then, or till long afterwards, if England had not lost the thirteen colonies. It was an outlet for her criminal population which she was seeking, and the colony she then established was the famous — or infamous — Botany Bay. The original settlement numbered only one thousand persons. It was four years before the first free immigrant arrived, and twenty before the colony really began to prosper. All that had been gained by this first step was the preëmption of the territory of the future Australian nation.
England had in her possession, then, in the last decade of the eighteenth century, when she was swept into the whirlpool of the French Revolution, the Canadian provinces, whose English population had just been heavily reinforced by the American loyalists ; in India, the fringes of her present great dominion ; in the West Indies, Jamaica and some smaller islands ; two mere stations on the west coast of Africa, and one in Central America ; a single settlement of a few hundred convicts in Australia ; and a few scattered outposts like Gibraltar and St. Helena. It was hardly an empire, certainly not a world empire. There was one real though unpromising colony in the West and one commercial dominion in the East, and besides these a few little points of occupation at wide intervals.
The other Anglo-Saxon nation was occupying a narrow ribbon of land along the eastern edge of its territory, stretching from Maine to Georgia. A century is not a long time in the history of the world, and the most rash of prophets a hundred years ago would not have dared to predict the present dominion of the race. War and peace, conquest, trade, and colonization have each had a share in its creation, but in the final balance the enterprises of private individuals will be reckoned more effective than those of the state.
War took the first turn at empirebuilding. It was only a superficial judgment which expected, as perhaps the French did expect, that England as a free nation would sympathize with the Revolution. The excesses of the Revolutionists in Paris and the passionate pleadings of Edmund Burke did no more than deepen a natural tendency ; for as soon as the real nature of the Revolution was revealed, it was seen to be opposed to almost every principle of Anglo-Saxon liberty. When, therefore, the Revolution announced itself in official proclamation the enemy of all existing governments, and declared that it was commissioned to overthrow all existing institutions ; and when, in opening the river Scheldt to general navigation contrary to existing treaties, the republic proclaimed that the law of nature, as interpreted by itself, of course, was to be superior to all international law, then war with England became inevitable. France only anticipated the act of England by herself declaring war.
More than twenty years of conflict followed, and during half that time England made scarcely any attempt to maintain an army of her own on the Continent. Her power was on the sea, and on the sea she could do her most effective work against the common enemy of Europe. It was also in their possible effect upon her dominion of the sea that the Continental successes of the French were especially dangerous to England. The occupation of Holland, and its organization in 1795 as the Batavian Republic, in close alliance with France, and at the same time the virtual or actual alliance with Spain, threatened England with far more than the united fleets of her old rivals. These she had successfully faced in the war of the American Revolution. But the absorption of Holland with its great colonial possessions might mean the sudden reconstruction of a formidable French world power. This was a risk too great to be taken, and many of the more important Dutch colonies were seized in rapid succession by the English fleets. Already most of the French West India islands had passed into the hands of England. Now, in 1795, Ceylon, Malacca, and the Dutch stations on the Malabar coast of India were occupied ; in 1796 Guiana, and in 1797 Trinidad and the Cape Colony, were taken. The old English possessions in the Spice Islands were reoccupied, and in 1800 Malta was captured. These acquisitions were an empire in themselves, and a still greater empire in their possibilities; but they were even more important to England than this, for, supplying as they did the connecting links, they first carried the Anglo-Saxon empire around the globe in any true sense.
The return blows which Napoleon attempted to strike through his occupation of Egypt and through the armed neutrality league of the northern nations were failures, but the struggle had been nearly as costly to England as to France, and by the close of 1801 she was ready for peace. By the terms of the treaty, England restored to her enemies all her colonial conquests except the two islands of Trinidad and Ceylon, — a striking proof of the sincerity of her desire for peace, since there was at that time no power in the world which could have forced her to yield a square mile against her will.
But it was a truce which had been signed rather than a peace, and when the war began again, after an interval of little more than a year, England once more swept rapidly into her possession the colonies which she had surrendered by the treaty. When the conflict with Napoleon was finally ended, England felt herself justified in retaining as her own a larger part of her conquests than in 1801. Her most important acquisition, both in what it was at the time and in what it was destined to become, was the Cape of Good Hope. The Dutch also ceded the territory of British Guiana, though England paid the Netherlands full value for both possessions. France gave up two West India islands and the Mauritius, and Malta was retained.
In the year 1814, just as this struggle was drawing to a close, there appeared in England, in a stately quarto, a Treatise on the Wealth, Power, and Resources of the British Empire in every Quarter of the World, by Mr. Patrick Colquhoun, a distinguished statistician of the time. The book reported a total population in the empire of sixty-one million, of which forty-three million were non-British natives, including all the inhabitants of India at that time subject to the British. This result of his investigations strikes the author as something marvelous. He says that the details of his tables " must be perused with exultation and astonishment by every British subject, while to foreign nations they will convey the most exalted ideas of the unexampled power and resources of this great empire.” And he had certainly good grounds for his exultation and astonishment. It was only thirty years since the enemies of England were rejoicing over her fall, and only twenty since the process of reconstruction had begun. But if he could have been allowed the gift of prophecy, and could have foreseen the condition of the Anglo-Saxon world at the close of the century, what language would he have employed ? Words would have failed him entirely to characterize a state of things in which the British Islands alone have a population equal to nearly three quarters of his grand total, the empire at large more than six times that sum, and the daughter state across the sea, which no doubt he looked down upon with much good-natured contempt from the lofty height of his sixty-one million, a population twenty per cent larger than his total.
But the gains of war, important as they were, by no means measure the expansion of the race during the first decade and a half of this century. In three other directions, entirely unconnected with one another, and only indirectly connected, or not at all, with the Napoleonic struggle, — lying also, for the most part, beyond the view of the author of the Treatise, — the power of the race had been advancing beyond anticipation.
Napoleon had not himself succeeded in reaching India, as he had probably hoped to do in his expedition to Egypt, but the expectation of his coming had set in motion the enemies of England, and had made her representatives quick to strike in anticipation of an attack. In this way came on the contest with the famous Tippoo Sahib which ended in his fall and in the absorption of his lands. This was followed almost immediately by a series of wars with the Mahratta states of the west and by more annexations. The result was that by 1815, or soon after, the territory directly under the rule of the British in India had more than doubled, though great additions remained still to be made.
Another reaction of Napoleon’s plans of colonial empire led to a still greater gain. Three weeks after the preliminaries of peace had been signed, in October, 1801, and before the definitive treaty had been arranged, Napoleon ordered his brother-in-law, Leclerc, to take command of a great fleet and army which had been for some time collecting in the western harbors of France, and to sail for the recovery of the island of San Domingo. Napoleon had just obtained from Spain the recession of the vast territory of Louisiana, and it was by no means a wild hope that, from San Domingo as a basis, he might reconstruct the French empire in North America. But the fulfillment of this hope was delayed by the stubborn resistance of the island and by still more unconquerable disease, and before any real advance was made toward success the great European war which was to end only with Waterloo had begun again.
But what was to be done with Louisiana? In the decision of this question a new power was interested. The steps taken by Napoleon had aroused the anxiety and suspicion of the United States. Had he succeeded in his plans for the occupation of Louisiana with a French army and for renewing colonization there, it is by no means impossible that so threatening a prospect would have had the result of driving our country into an alliance with England against the French. The imagination is tempted to dwell upon the beneficent consequences which might have followed from such a union in a common policy, brought about by a common danger, but sober judgment is inclined to say that it would have been premature, and that it is probably better, on the whole, that it did not occur. What did occur was a result great enough to satisfy any reasonable demand ; for Napoleon, conscious that he could not protect Louisiana from the British with his inferior naval strength, preferred to have it pass into the hands of the United States rather than to allow England to seize it. Already American colonization was rapidly advancing in the Mississippi Valley. Three great States west of the Alleghanies had been admitted to equal partnership in the Union, and other future States had been marked out and given their preliminary organization, and were filling up with colonists from the East. Now, at a single stroke, without the firing of a gun, and at a price equivalent to less than three cents per acre, the area of the United States was doubled. All but a very small portion of the new territory lay to the west of the Mississippi, and it carried with it a claim, at least, to a coast-line upon the Pacific, which, reinforced by other claims, secured for our colonization the two States of Washington and Oregon. Of this great inheritance we were in a sense the natural heirs, for this cession was the logical conclusion of that which had closed the great war for the possession of North America fifty years before, — a war in which the thirteen colonies had had so large a share.
If the expansion of Anglo-Saxon dominion in India and in North America, in these first years of the century, was due indirectly to the Napoleonic war, the beginning of Australian development was wholly peaceful. To be sure, by 1815 it was only a very small growth which had been made, but it was a beginning, and in the case of Australia it was the beginning which was difficult. To bring about the change of a penal settlement, which had been founded with no expectation or desire that it should ever be anything but a penal settlement, into an attractive home for millions of free and prosperous colonists; into a series of colonies which should take the place, for England, once occupied by the American colonies ; which should, indeed, far exceed the growth of the thirteen colonies during any period of their history, — this was no slight achievement. This beginning had been accomplished by 1815, and it was the work of individuals unaided by the government. In 1803, the government had, indeed, occupied Tasmania, then called Van Dieman’s Land, as a station for further penal settlement, but that was hardly colonial development in the present sense. About the same time it occurred to Captain John Macarthur that the Australian lands, which did not seem to promise very rich returns from agricultural investments, might be profitably employed in sheepraising, and with some difficulty he succeeded in getting a fine strain of merino sheep. The experiment proved at once successful. His example was followed by others, and the infant colony was supplied with the one thing which had hitherto been wanting, — an especially profitable industry to attract free settlers and capital. A few years later, during a season of drought, some graziers broke through the mountain barrier which separates the interior from the eastern coast, and found beyond vast ranges of rich pasture-land. Just at this time, Mr. Colquhoun, the author of the Treatise quoted above, recorded his judgment that the British population of New South Wales was lost to the nation, and added, “ It is ever to be lamented that, in a choice of difficulties at the time, the British government should have been induced to have recourse to such an expedient ” as the settlement of Australia ! It was certainly not an era of such startlingly rapid progress which these changes opened as the more recent growth of Australia has been, but they made possible all the rest, and laid the foundation of what is destined to be one of the great nations of the world: the third, it may even pass the mother country before another century closes, and become the second of the AngloSaxon nations in wealth and population.
The twenty years which closed with 1815 have deserved so much detail because that was the generation which reconstructed from the apparent ruins of 1783, on new and stronger foundations, the Anglo-Saxon empire, in its two halves, and broadened it out into what it had never been before, a world empire. England had obtained compensation for the loss of the old thirteen colonies in the beginning of another New England of continental size in the South Seas ; she had filled up the one great gap in her line of defense and of world occupation by gaining South Africa; and she had strengthened her hold upon every old possession and added not a few new ones. The other half of the race had doubled its area, had stretched across the continent from ocean to ocean, and had begun to feel the stimulus and broadening influence of colossal size.
With the close of the Napoleonic struggle there opens a new era of expansion. It is expansion by peaceful growth in wealth and population beyond recorded precedent in the history of the world. Not that war ceased with 1815. But war with rivals able to dispute the empire on equal terms did cease. Wars there have been which have led to expansion, but they have been local in character, with bordering or semi-subject native states or with revolted subjects. The greatest conflict since Napoleon in which any part of the Anglo-Saxon world has been involved was the civil war in the United States, which was fought, not for direct expansion, but for a result which may be called negative, to remove from one portion of the country the greatest obstacle to its rapid development.
In the enlargement of the territory of the race, since 1815, the United States has done far more than its proportionate share. The only great annexation at a single stroke was ours until within the last few years, when the sudden scramble of the European nations for Africa has recalled the great figures and something of the romance of eighteenth-century colonial expansion. But if the single additions have been small, the aggregate has been large.
The portion of India subject to English rule has been practically doubled since 1815, though this has been done by a long series of annexations reaching down almost to the present. Next in value, perhaps in the end to be of even greater value, is New Zealand, the England of the South Seas, occupied in 1840 just in time to forestall the French. Twenty years before, the United States had obtained Florida. For the rest, we have the series of fortified outposts on the way to India, like Aden and Perim ; Hongkong, transformed from a barren rock to a large and wealthy city ; the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, near the Antarctic Ocean; the Fiji Islands and New Guinea, after long resistance to the demands of the Australians; and small but profitable territories in the Straits Settlements.
These acquisitions, taken singly, are all small and unimposing, but during these years the United States twice enlarged its borders by vast annexations scarcely to be rivaled for magnitude during the history of the race. Once, just before the middle of the century, by a war which history will hardly be able to characterize in its final account as anything but a war of deliberate conquest, forced upon a weak neighbor, we obtained a territory destined to make real for us the early dreams of El Dorado, as large in area, if we include Texas, which really belongs to it, as the land of all the States and Territories together in 1800. Again, a few yeas past the middle of the century, by a fair bargain, with which we have had increasing reason to be satisfied, we bought from Russia another half million of square miles, carrying our total area beyond three million and a half.
But downright bargain and sale, even highway robbery of a disguised and somewhat gentlemanly order, are prosaic methods of expansion when compared with the stir and adventure of opening a new world to occupation. This kind of expansion the closing quarter of the nineteenth century has found in Africa for the last time in the history of the world. Up to 1884 scarcely more than the edges of Africa had been occupied by the European powers. It was in that year that Germany suddenly began an attempt to realize her long - cherished aspirations for a colonial empire. She naturally made the attempt in Africa, as the only place where it was possible to make it, and in doing so she started all the nations in a wild race in fear lest their neighbors should get the advantage of them. In this scramble, if England has been left far behind by some of the others in the area of her gains, she certainly leads them all in real value, and the prospect that the Anglo-Saxons will be the ruling power in the future of Africa is, to say the least, as good as was their prospect for the control of North America in 1750. This is surely true if we consider Egypt an English possession, and we can hardly suppose that England will ever abandon that country, whatever depths of sentimental emotion may be stirred in varying moods ; nor, considering the enormous benefits which result, would the world ever consent to such an abandonment, if it were not still much influenced by barbarian motives. It was a brilliant scheme which was attempted in 1894, to obtain from the Congo Free State a narrow strip of land connecting the waterway of Lake Tanganyika with the British sphere of influence to the north, and so to make an English highway from the mouth of the Nile to the Cape of Good Hope. Although it seemed the part of wisdom at the time to yield to the united objections of the other interested powers, it is by no means impossible that the object sought may be accomplished in the end.
What is the total result ? A little more than eleven million square miles under the rule of England, three and a half million under that of the United States, — together, more than one quarter of the total land area of the globe.
But the conquest of empty land, however vast, is not a real expansion of the race. When we turn from the growth in territory to that in population and wealth, the record which is marvelous in the one case becomes almost incredible in the other. The United Kingdom, which has sent out every year so many thousands of its children to the colonies and to us, now contains a population considerably more than twice as great as the population of European descent in the whole empire in 1814. We are sufficiently aware of the fact that we have multiplied our own population by sixteen in a hundred years, and founded more than thirty flourishing colonies, not condemned by our system to continue long in the condition of colonies, but now full members of our Union. This rate of increase in population, however, has been equaled by the Australian colonies, which have, according to the census of 1891, a population almost exactly equal to ours as given by the census of 1790, and Canada slightly exceeds that number. If we reckon the growth of Australia from 1820, it greatly outdistances the record of the United States. In the fifteen years preceding the discovery of gold, the population of her colonies doubled twice, and after the discovery the seventy-six thousand inhabitants of Victoria were multiplied by four in three years. The “ boom ” days of Melbourne equaled or even surpassed the record of any of our Western cities, and Winnipeg multiplied its population by more than a hundred in the twenty years following 1871. It is a little hard for us to realize that Australia has two of the greatest cities of the Anglo-Saxon world, but if Melbourne were transferred to the British Isles, it would rank as the fifth city, and Sydney as the seventh ; the United States has only four cities larger than Melbourne, and seven larger than Sydney, and Montreal is not far below in the list. In sum total, the population of the race and of its subjects exceeds four hundred and fifty millions, — more than its proportionate share of the world’s population, reckoned according to the proportion of the world’s territory which it occupies.
It is impossible to measure by accurate standards the growth in wealth, but apparently it has more than kept pace with the growth in population. The capitalized wealth of the United Kingdom, as it is reckoned by statisticians, has been multiplied by five since 1815; and the three largest colonies, Canada. Australia, and the Cape, exceed the record of the mother country at that date by a sum which would pay the British national debt; while the wealth of the United States has been multiplied by more than fifty within the century, and it is twenty years since we first passed the United Kingdom and took rank as the wealthiest of the Anglo-Saxon nations. The sum of wealth now made and added to the savings of the race in three ordinary years would buy up the whole of the British Isles and all the forms of wealth in them as they existed in 1815. On the other side of the account, while the national debt of France has grown rapidly during the century, the British debt has been actually reduced by more than a thousand million dollars. Fortunately, the Anglo-Saxon instinctively shudders at the cost of war, but it is altogether probable that England could begin the coming century with a war as long continued and desperate as that with which the present century opened, without a larger national debt at the end, in proportion to its wealth, than weighed upon it in 1815.
One fourth the area, one third the population, and more than one third the resources and capitalized wealth of the globe ; a dominion which furnishes all the commercial conditions of the world, and which might surround itself with a Chinese wall of exclusion against all the rest of mankind, and not forego a single article of necessity or of luxury or the profitableness of a single exchange, — surely this is expansion enough for a race whose enemies were rejoicing but little more than a century ago at the apparent destruction of its colonial empire. But this is only one side of the case.
We may measure in parallel columns of figures or by the foot rule the expansion of the race in land and resources, but in what terms are we to express that other expansion in responsibilities, and in problems of difficulty to be solved, domestic and foreign, which has been the inevitable result of our material growth ? We are indeed only just beginning to regard this side of our expansion. We are proud of the imperial position of the race in the world, and yet we still haggle bitterly with one another over petty issues, and blindly stake that imperial position and our dearest interests on the contemptible result. We have grown into a world race, but step by step with this growth has come a fearful shrinking of the world. The interests of all the tribes of men have fallen into a common stream of diplomacy, and questions from the remotest regions of the globe press upon one another in settlement, until we must perforce let the Turk go on to cut as many Christian throats as he will through fear lest a Japanese gunboat appear in the Gulf of Carpentaria, or because of the superior importance of a South American swamp.
Still greater responsibilities have come upon us within our own borders. It was not possible that wealth and population should expand as they have done, with our still imperfect methods of organization and distribution, without a growing demand for change at many points, and even a sense of injustice and unfair treatment on the part of some. No sane man believes that we have seen the last passionate attempt to stir up a war of classes in ignorant support of half the truth, or that, through fear of the brutish allies of the right imperfectly understood, we have been for the last time compelled to refuse the demand we would concede.
And there is that other problem of union, of bringing the whole race into the lines of a common policy and the equal bearing of common burdens, — the problem of healing the breach made a century ago, which has already served its full measure of usefulness, and now bids fair to be a source of danger if it continues longer. This is a constitutional problem of greater difficulty than any that ever before demanded solution ; for it requires, in common interests, a complete and strong union of the most widely separated units, together with the greatest freedom in local interests broadly interpreted. But this problem must be solved. The scale of the world stands at a light balance, and a touch may turn it either way.
The simple truth is that, great as have been the demands upon the race to create the history of the past in which we rejoice, the demands of the future will be even greater. It is the result of this history, the proper and fitting result, that we are now brought to the supreme test of racial ability. The nineteenth century, truly considered, is but an age of preliminary and introductory expansion. If the genius of the race fail not ; if calm submission to the law, unwavering devotion to the task in hand, steady refusal to follow glittering allurements or hasty choices, may still be our leading traits; if we may trust our sons to equal our fathers’ deeds of self-devotion without the hope of fame, then is the achievement of the nineteenth century but a preparing of the way for the vaster expansion of the twentieth, — for the founding, not of the empire of the race, but of the united commonwealth of all nations.
But if these things fail us, if this so rapid growth has exhausted the moral stamina of the race, if by its unsettling hurry it has destroyed our power of patient self-control, then shall we repeat the history of other empires. This great fabric of ours, which, as far as human judgment can discern, needs but closer union to be secure against the shock of every danger from without, will in that case break asunder and fall, from its own inner decay. History will then record that the nineteenth century was our greatest but our final era of expansion.
George Burton Adams.