George V: King of the British Dominions beyond the Sea
W. T. Stead (The Review of Reviews, vol. XLI, June, 1910) pp. 511- 523
King George III. destroyed the unity of the English-speaking world. Will King George V. make amends for the criminal folly of his ancestor by welding into a united Empire all the British Dominions beyond the Seas? That is the question of questions—a question that arouses high hopes and conjures up uneasy forebodings. That our new King aspires to achieve that task of high emprize is undoubted. It is, and in all probability will remain to the end, the master thought of the new reign. But Empires are so often as not ruined by attempts to force their growth and to promote their unity, that while we rejoice that the fifth George should desire to atone for the misdeeds of the third, we rejoice with trembling. For in some respects No. 5 is ominously like No. 3 in temperament, in prejudice, and in character. “A little George III.,” I said of him when I left York House after an hour’s talk with the then Duke of York. The previous day I had spent another hour with the then Prince of Wales discussing the same subjects with father and with son. It was eleven years ago, but the impression of the strongly marked contrast between the two men remains as fresh as if it had been imprinted yesterday. But he is George III. with a difference. He is English, and not German. He is a sailor, and not a farmer, and, above all, he belongs to the British Dominions beyond the Sea, which the third George foolishly imagined belonged to him.
I.—A KING FROM THE QUARTER-DECK.
In attempting to estimate the latent potentialities of any human being it is necessary to ask first as to their birth and lineage, and secondly as to their education.
THE SEA KING’S GRANDSON.
King George comes of seafaring stock on both sides. As his mother was hailed by the Poet Laureate as “sea king’s daughter” from over the sea, George was the sea king’s grandson. English and Dane, joining hands across the German Ocean, have produced a hardy race of seafaring men. From the days of Canute to those of King George they have kept pure the strain of the Vikings, who had brine in their blood, who were cradled on the storm waves, and who were hushed to sleep by the wild northeaster. On the English and on the Danish side alike the King had uncles in the Navy—Prince Alfred and Prince Waldemar. In the past there were not lacking examples of English princes of the blood royal. William IV. still lives in popular memory as our Sailor King. A Duke of York, the brother of George III., died at twenty-nine as Admiral and Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean. Another Duke of York, brother of Charles II., fought the Dutch in the seventeenth century.
ON THE “BRITANNIA.”
Prince George was destined to the sea from his birth up. When the late King decided to send both Eddie and George to the Britannia, it was with the intention of. fitting the one for the throne and the other for the Navy. When the two lads went to Dartmouth, no one dreamed—and Prince George least of all—that the Crown would pass to the younger son. To the Duke of Clarence the sea was to be an education; to his brother it was to be a profession. But both alike were put through the regular training of boys intended to spend their lives in the Navy. In nothing did King Edward show more good sense than in deciding not to send his sons to Eton. The atmosphere of Dartmouth is much more bracing than that of the school overshadowed by the grey towers of Windsor. But the choice had its drawbacks. The breach which all boarding-schools make in the home life of children is wider when the lads go to sea than when they remain on land. The youngsters become amphibious. They live in a new element, and their parents on land are something like the hen who has hatched a duckling brood. Prince George was very young when he went to the Britannia, being just over the minimum age of twelve. His brother Edward was as nearly too old as George was too young. On the Britannia the brothers went through the regular routine of naval education as it was understood in those days. Up at half-past six in the morning, they were kept at it, with the usual necessary intervals for food and recreation, till half-past nine at night. The Princes had a sleeping-room for themselves; it was the only privilege that distinguished Royalty from the rest of the lads. Their special tutor was Mr. Lawless, one of the best naval instructors of the time. “Under him,” says a certain writer, “they studied the sciences and the history books that bear on the naval service of the Queen, and were well drilled in modern languages. Their nautical training was not ignored. They were taught to handle boats, and as much of the art and mystery of seamanship as was necessary to prepare them for entering a cruising ship of war.” While on the Britannia Prince George made himself universally beloved, and won more than one prize for boat-sailing, and pulled in more than one victorious crew of cadets.
TO THE “BACCHANTE.”
On the Britannia training ship the lads remained for a couple of years. George, even at that early date, acquired the reputation of being a much livelier customer than his somewhat more sedate elder brother, to whom he was nevertheless very closely attached. He had more vigorous vitality in him, and the instinct of leadership. After they had been two years at Dartmouth the decision was taken which, for weal or for woe, fixed the character of our new sovereign and will probably influence the history of the reign. In 1879 it was decided to send the Princes for a cruise—or, rather, a series of cruises—in H.M.S. Bacchante, in the course of which they should not only learn the art and craft of seamanship on the high seas, but also make personal acquaintance with the British Dominions beyond the Seas. Prince George was just fourteen when he began the first of the sea voyages which have made him the most travelled monarch in the whole world. His father had visited Canada before he was twenty, and he subsequently visited India. But Edward VII. was never a sailor. The sea was to him only so many miles of heaving, restless space that intervened between the port of embarkation and the port of landing. His son—although, like Nelson, always liable to sea-sickness—was to reverse this. He was to learn from his earliest teens that the British Empire floats upon the British Navy, that the frontiers of England are the sea-coasts of her enemies, and that now, as never before—
Britannia needs no bulwarks,
No towers along the steep,
Her march is o’er the mountain waves,
Her home is on the deep.
These maxims were to be bred into the bone of him, impressed on every fibre of his brain, until they became part of his innermost sub-conscious self. Whatever he might have been if he had left the Britannia to go to school on land, his cruise on the Bacchante made him a seaman for all time.
We made the wind our comrade and our friend,
And called to it aloud;
And where it led we followed, and were proud…
Of all the pomp and pageant of the sea.
OUR IMPERIAL VENICE AND ITS HISTORIC SHRINES.
Prince George and his brother went forth as pious pilgrims to the shrines consecrated by the valour and the sacrifice of successive generations of English seamen. They returned after two years, having seen many continents, but their first and last impression was of the sea. When they came back on August 4th, 1882, they wrote in their diary:—
At daylight seven sail in sight, and we are midway across the Channel; the wind is blowing straight off the English land, and the grey seas alone would tell us where we are. “Thank Him who isled us here and roughly set His Briton in blown seas and storming showers.”
Naval history became for them, as is natural to those trained from boyhood to the service, the real history of England. King George was born on the two hundredth anniversary—to the very day—of the sea fight off Lowestoft, in which a former Duke of York, afterward the unlucky Second James, succeeded in defeating the Dutch on June 3rd, 1665. The third of June is associated with the much greater and more decisive battle of “the glorious First of June.” The fight began on the first, but it was not till the third that the victorious British Admiral finally swept up the crumbs of the French fleet into his basket. In the boys’ diary there are many entries showing how carefully they were taken to the spots famous as the battleground of the British Navy. Here is one entry:—
February 20th, 1880.—At 8 a.m. we are midway between St. Lucia and Martinique, where we tacked and retacked. We should be less than Englishmen, less than men, if we did not feel a thrill of pride while sailing here.
For it was in these waters that Rodney brought about by a single tremendous blow the honourable peace of 1783. “On what a scene of crippled and sinking, shattered and triumphant ships in this very sea must the conqueror have looked round from the Formidable’s poop. The air yet even in clearest blaze of sunshine seems full of ghosts—the ghosts of gallant sailors and soldiers. Truly here—
The spirits of our fathers
Might start from every wave,
For the deck it was their field of fame,
And ocean was their grave.
In October, 1879, they “rose early and saw the sun rise right ahead at 5.30 a.m.”
Bluish ‘mid the burning water,
full in face Trafalgar lay.
Seventy-four years ago then—one hundred and five now—this very month these capes and bays witnessed the great fight when “the danger of any invasion of England rolled away like a dream.” And here, as always, at all these famous scenes of derring-do, there was impressed upon the lads’ minds Browning’s familiar line—
Here and here did England help me: how can I help England? say.
Not bad training for a future King!
HOW THE KING WAS EDUCATED.
While the imagination of the Princes was being fed by visions of far-off days of conflict, their training as seafaring men was never intermitted. “The two Princes,” says one of their biographers, “had to do duty in all weathers and in all hazards, just like any other young ‘reefers’ on board. They had no exceptional indulgences, and they gave themselves no airs of superiority.” A familiar story is told of the dismay of a Turkish Pasha who desired to be presented to the Prince in later years, and was confronted by a subaltern officer all grimy with coal-dust. But that is a way that they have in the Navy. When Prince George’s uncle, the Duke of Edinburgh, was serving in the Euryalus, his ship touched at a South African port, and some of the native chiefs were invited on board. They arrived at sunrise and found Prince Alfred, barefooted, superintending the washing of the decks. They watched with amazement, and then retiring, dictated of their own accord a sort of manifesto to the captain of the Euryalus. After saying that many things puzzled them, they went on: “But one thing we understand: the reason of England’s greatness, when the son of her great Queen becomes subject to a subject that he may learn wisdom; when the sons of England’s chiefs and others leave the homes and wealth of their fathers, and, with their young Prince, endure hardships and sufferings in order that they may be wise, and become a defence to their country. When we behold these things we see why the English are a great, mighty nation.” Canon Dalton, who acted as their governor on board the Bacchante, says that they were sent to sea chiefly with a view to the mental and moral training that they would receive as midshipmen. No service better inculcates implicit and instant obedience or imbues all subjected to its discipline with a sense of responsibility. Hence the Princes were put through the same routine as everyone else on board. Canon Dalton says:—
As long as they were on board ship the Princes were treated exactly like other midshipmen, and performed all the duties which usually fall to their lot. They took their turn in all weathers by day or night at watch-keeping and going aloft, at sail drill or boat duty. There was no difference, not even the slightest of any sort or kind, made between them and their gunroom messmates.
The following brief table gives a glimpse of how the middies spent their time:—
|First Lieutenants—Routine of Midshipman’s Drills.
|7.30 to 8.0
|Cutlass or Rifle drill
|9.30 to 11.30
|11.30 to 12.0
|1.30 to 2.30
|2.45 to 3.45
|1.30 to 2.30
|2.45 to 3.45
|1.30 to 2.30
|Gunnery and Torpedo
|1.30 to 2.30
|1.30 to 2.30
|Logs and watch bills
Besides these studies the lads had to read French with M. Sceales, and were instructed in mathematics by their naval instructor, Mr. Lawless, who thought so well of Prince George’s mathematical head that he rather regretted he had not gone in for a wrangler-ship.
“THREE SIMPLE QUALITIES.”
Of the value of the training received on board ship the King, then the Duke of York, spoke in 1899, when he addressed the boys on the Conway training ship at Liverpool. After saying that he was just as devoted to his profession as when he first joined it, and that he would always continue to take the greatest interest in all that concerns the sea, ships and sailors, he said:—
I think that I am entitled from a personal experience of twenty years at sea, to impress upon you three simple qualities, which I am sure, if conscientiously acted up to, will go a long way towards ensuring your success. The qualities to which I would refer are truthfulness, obedience, and zeal. Truthfulness will give those placed under you confidence in you; obedience will give those placed over you confidence in you; and although I have mentioned zeal last, it is by no means the least important, for without zeal no sailor can ever be worth his salt.
King George has never been lacking in zeal. What is now expected is that he will temper it with discretion. For the Council Chamber of a King is other than the quarter-deck of a man-of-war. The cruise of the Bacchante, although primarily intended to familiarise the Princes with the seamen who enable Britannia to rule the waves, had as its secondary objective the introduction of the future Sovereign to the British Dominions beyond the Sea. As this, however, opens up another subject, I will briefly summarise the leading features in the naval career of the King.
THE KING’S NAVAL CAREER.
Prince George left the Bacchante on August 31, 1882, after having been 478 days under way, during which they had covered 54,679 miles, 30,088 under sail and 24,591 under steam. The Bacchante was never capable of making more than fifteen miles an hour under steam, or twelve miles under canvas. She was a small boat of only 3,912 tons displacement. Her armament was fourteen 4½ -ton guns, and “two 64-pounders in the captain’s cabin.” She was one of the old style of fighting ships when masts and yards were regarded as being as indispensable as rudders and compasses—a tradition which lasted down to the bombardment of Alexandria, after which it rapidly disappeared. After spending six months in Lausanne in order to improve his French, Prince George was, on May 1st, 1883, appointed midshipman to the Canada. It is notable that the first commission held by the King was on board the Canada, and that his last voyage as Prince of Wales was on the Indomitable, when it broke all records in coming home from Canada. From 1883-4 he served on the North American and West Indian stations. His aunt, Princess Louise, was at Ottawa, and at her court he picked up Sir Francis de Winton, then Lord Lorne’s secretary, who subsequently became comptroller and treasurer of the Duke of York’s household. He revisited the West Indies, and passed as sub-lieutenant on his nineteenth birthday, obtaining a first class in seamanship.
DATES OF HIS COMMISSIONS.
Returning home he studied first at the Naval College at Greenwich, and afterwards on the Excellent at Portsmouth. There he went through his lessons exactly like anybody else, and out of the five examinations he had to take (seamanship, navigation, torpedo, gunner, and pilotage), he got a first-class in four. He was promoted to lieutenant’s rank on the 8th of October, 1885—promotion comes rapidly to Royal Princes—and on the 14th of January, 1886, he was appointed to H.M.S. Thunderer, under the command of Captain Stephenson, on the Mediterranean station. Soon after he was transferred to H.M.S. Dreadnought, on the 23rd of August, 1886, and was classed as one of the ship’s regular lieutenants. Prince George’s next “step” was on the 20th of April, 1888, when he was transferred to H.M.S. Alexandra, the flagship of H.R.H. the Duke Edinburgh, then Admiral Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean. On this ship he remained for three years. After Mediterranean cruise he went for another course of gunner training on H.M.S. Excellent, at Portsmouth. This concluded, he was appointed the on the 1st February, 1889, to the Northumberland – the flagship of the Channel Squadron. During the naval manoeuvres of the summer of this year he was placed in charge of one of the finest of the torpedo boats, where he distinguished himself by rescuing a disabled consort which was drifting before a stiff gale upon the Irish coast. This exploit led to the Admiralty promoting him to the command of the gunboat Thrush, a vessel of 805 tons, in which he knocked about for a year in the West Indian station. He revisited Jamaica for the third time, and opened the Industrial Exhibition at Kingston as the representative of the Queen. On returning to England he was appointed Commander of the Melampus on August 24th, 1891. Two years later he was appointed Captain. In the meantime his brother, the Duke of Clarence, had died, the Prince had become Duke of York and heir to the throne of England. It was not till June, 1898, when he was appointed to the command of the first-class cruiser Crescent, that he resumed active service. It was not for long. . After a three months’ cruise spent in the autumn manoeuvres the Duke of York ceased to take an active part in naval operations. Every officer who has ever served with the Duke speaks of His Royal Highness in the most eulogistic manner. As they say, “He never put on any side and never shirked his work.” He was always thoughtful of the comfort of his men and considerate of the convenience of others.
THE KING AS ACTING CHAPLAIN.
I will close this rapid sketch of the shaping years of the King’s life spent in the blue water by the following extract from a sketch, published seventeen years ago, in the Young Man, which some at least of my readers may think worth preserving:—
As ships of the Thrush class do not carry a naval chaplain, Prince George, as captain, had, according to the Admiralty regulations, to read morning prayers on board after divisions each day, and himself to conduct the Sunday service. In preparation for this last, he always practised on Saturday evenings, with such officers and men as volunteered to take part in the singing, the chants and hymns for the next day. We are told that his favourite hymns appeared to be such well-known ones as “Nearer, my God, to Thee,” “O God, our help in ages past,” “I heard the voice of Jesus say,” “Jesu, meek and lowly,” “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” and Keble’s morning and evening hymns. These and others he had been wont in his boyhood to sing at home with his brother and sisters, to his mother’s accompaniment on the piano; and therefore to him, as to so many others of us, the words of the hymns had acquired an additional force and meaning from being hallowed with many recollections. The Sunday morning service he took on board ship; in the evening, when in port, he generally attended Church ashore with a few friends. In all this there is perhaps nothing remarkable, nothing but what many another naval officer is in the habit of doing. But it may interest some of our readers to know that it was so.
II.—THE FIRST KING OF BRITISH DOMINIONS BEYOND THE SEA George V. is the first British Sovereign proclaimed on his accession as King of the British Dominions beyond the Sea. This addition to the Royal style dates from his father’s reign. It is, significant of the force of inveterate habit that in the earliest proofs issued to the local authorities, directing them as to the form of the Royal Proclamation on the death of King Edward, the new addition “of the British Dominions beyond the Seas ” was omitted. In some places the watchful eye of the Herald detected the mistake and supplied the omitted phrase. It is but fitting that it should be first used in proclaiming King George V., for no other King has ever seen so many of the British Dominions beyond the Sea as our new Sovereign. He has been at least thrice to the West Indies, three or four times to Canada, twice to Australia and South Africa, twice to Ceylon, and once to India and the Far Eastern Colonies.
THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC UNVISITED.
The only great and outstanding lack in his foreign tours has been the failure to visit the United States. It was proposed at one time that he should have visited the Pacific Coast and the Yosemite Valley in 1881. But the design was not carried out. When a middy on the Canada or as Commander on the Thrush he may have called in at some American port. But of this I know nothing. What is certain is that the King has never officially visited the United States of America. He has been frequently invited. In 1903 it was even said that he had intimated unofficially that he might accept the invitation of the Honourable Artillery Company of Boston to visit America when Lord Roberts went out. But it came to nothing. Perhaps it was as well. For now it is possible that his first State visit to the United States may be made as King. In that case George V. will be the first English King who ever visited the American Republic. King Edward wished to do so. But he was not able to carry out his well-meant design. Now that the Atlantic can be crossed in four days, the Royal visit to Washington ought not to be long delayed.
THE CROWN AS AN ASSET OF EMPIRE.
The cruise of the Bacchante brought the King into touch with the Britains beyond the Seas thirty years go. It was Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort who first realised the immense value of the Crown as an asset of Empire. It was they who started the now familiar practice of utilising Heirs to the Throne as Imperial bagmen. No one entered into their design with more spirit than King George. When he visited Montreal in 1901 he reminded the Canadians of the pregnant words uttered by his grandfather in 1860. The Prince Consort, alluding to the visit of the then Prince of Wales, said:—
What vast considerations, as regards our own country, are brought to our minds in this simple fact; what present greatness; what past history; what future hopes, and how important and beneficent is the part given to the royal family of England to act in the development of these distant and rising countries, who recognise in the British Crown and their allegiance to it, their supreme bond of union with the mother country and with each other!
The same note was sounded by the King in his famous Guildhall speech, when, on December 5th, 1901, he summed up the net impressions produced in his mind by their 45,000 miles of journeying over sea and land, as follows:—
If I were asked to specify any particular impressions derived from our journey, I should unhesitatingly place before all others that of loyalty to the Crown, and of attachment to the old country; and it was touching to hear the invariable references to home, even from the lips of those who never had been or were ever likely to be in these islands. And with this loyalty were unmistakable evidences of the consciousness of strength; of a true and living membership in the Empire, and of power and readiness to share the burden and responsibility of that membership. And were I to seek for the causes which have created and fostered this spirit, I should venture to attribute them, in a very large degree, to the life and example of our late beloved Sovereign.
There is no disposition on the part of our new King to undervalue the importance of the kingship; nor is it to be wondered at. He knows that in the eyes of his subjects beyond the seas, Lords may come and Commons may go, but the Crown goes on for ever.
HIS FIRST COLONIAL IMPRESSIONS.
It is very interesting going through the two unindexed and most ponderous tomes in which Canon Dalton serves up the Prince’s summaries of his political and historical lectures with a liberal allowance of good Daltonian sauce, to corne upon expressions of opinion prophetic of the King’s present views. The first colony visited by Queen Victoria’s piccaninnies was Barbados, an island colony annexed in 1605 by an English crew which put up a cross and cut thereon: “James, King of England and of this island,” which was a seventeenth-century foreshadowing of the latest addition to the Royal style and title. The early colonists called Barbados Little England, and in the planters the Prince “certainly found the earliest type of the true English colonist.” The Prince’s Diary continues as follows:—
Barbados was reduced to submission by the Great Protector, who had a strong Colonial policy; he forced the island to give up free trade with the Dutch and Portuguese, and by his Act of Navigation to trade with none but the mother-country. Cromwell also did a great deal for the West Indies by sending many of his Irish and Scotch prisoners out as slaves. Seven thousand Scotch, for example, were sold to the West India planters after the battle of Worcester. In 1657 Barbados was the most populous, rich, and industrious spot on the earth.
This reads almost like an extract from a Tariff Reform tract.. But more remains behind:—
What wonder that in 1663 a duty of 4½ per cent, upon the produce of the island was levied by the English Parliament to defray the expenses of its government and as a tribute or contribution to the Imperial Exchequer in England… This tax to the home Government was not removed till 1838. It prevailed in all the West Indian islands, and many years in succession the contribution thus paid to the English Exchequer from the West Indies amounted to more than a million and a half sterling. The Colonies paid then, at any rate, and they possessed at the same time free and independent Governments of their own.
It would be unjust to suggest that George V. meditates making the Colonists pay because of this boyish remark. If’he did, George III.’s exploit in the dismemberment of the Empire would speedily be eclipsed. HINTS FROM THE WEST INDIES. The Princes travelled with Charles Kingsley’s “Westward Ho!” at their finger-ends, and constantly quoted from his descriptions of the West Indies in his “At Last.” Again and again we come upon observations which contain the germ of later speeches. They note, for instance, how wise was the Liberal policy which allowed the Spaniards in Trinidad to rank as Englishmen when they acknowledged the flag: “It is curious to observe how both the French and Spanish here have become such out and out Englishmen.” On another occasion they moralise almost in the strain of “Wake up, England!” over the decay of the British West Indies:—
The old notions that prevailed of getting as much as possible out of the island and grudging every penny spent in it, is here, as elsewhere, a very penny wise and pound foolish policy, although it will, nevertheless, always commend itself to persons of a certain class of mind. But for English gentlemen who have care or mind to see their own property administered on more sensible principles, there is a splendid opening, and they might raise the negro by judicious handling. It is a great pity that the larger landowners in these West Indian islands do not run out for two or three months in the winter and superintend or see to the management of their estates.
THE KING AS IMPERIALIST.
So it is all the way round the world. Everywhere the quick observant eye. Everywhere the sense of responsibility. A consciousness of the overwhelming, almost appalling, magnificence of our opportunities and an uneasy conviction that the heirs of all this greatness are by no means adequately alive to the splendour of their potential destinies. In the concluding pages of their diaries they quote with evident sympathy Tennyson’s lines:—
The loyal to their crown Are loyal to their own far sons, who love Our ocean Empire with her boundless homes In our vast Orient, and one isle, one isle That knows not her own greatness, if she knows And dreads it, we are fallen.
They remember that “rememberable day” when they went to St. Paul’s with the Queen and the Prince and Princess of Wales—although the present King must then only have been seven years old—and they hope of their country that— There rang her voice when the full city peal’d the Queen and Prince. But they are still haunted by visions of Britain as a sinking land, some third-rate isle half lost among her seas. It was perhaps natural that they should at that time have been despondent. They set sail in the Bacchante just as the nation was draining to the last bitter dregs in Afghanistan and South Africa the results of the Jingo orgy of 1878. They were at Cape Town when Majuba Hill was fought and lost; they came home just before the bombardment of Alexandria. Sane Imperialism was just beginning to assert itself against the fool-fury of Jingoism on the one hand and the frigid impiety of Little Englandism on the other. The rebuilding of the Navy had not been begun—almost all hope of the restoration of our naval supremacy seemed at an end.
A PASSING PHASE OF JINGOISM.
Prince George responded eagerly to the first promptings of the Imperial spirit; nor can he be blamed if, like many an older man, he failed at first to distinguish between the spurious Imperialism that wrecks Empires and the sane Imperialism that saves them. Whether even yet he has learned the lesson of South Africa thoroughly remains to be seen. At one time he had not. To his eager eyes the Jameson Raid was simply a misfortune because “we had gone off at half-cock: next time we would make surer work.” Which we did with a vengeance within two or three years of the confident prediction, but only in order that we might dree our weird in bringing forth works meet for repentance. Certain it is that when he came back from his second long tour he attributed much of the loyalty of our dominions beyond the sea to “the wise and just policy which in the last half century has been continuously maintained towards our colonies.” For a young man who speaks so much, and who speaks so well, there is a surprising absence of nonsense in his writings and his speeches. It is impossible here to do more than glance at his more notable utterances. He has had to make many speeches in many lands, and he has always stuck to the same keynote which Tennyson sounded in his ode on the opening of the Indian and Colonial Exhibition:—
Britons’ myriad voices call, Sons, be welded, each and all, Into one Imperial whole, One with Britain heart and soul; One life, one flag, one fleet, one throne Britons, hold your own, And God guard all!
WHAT HE ADMIRES IN THE EMPIRE.
King George believes in the Empire because he has seen it—seen it many times. He recalls with pride how in his last round-the-world trip, when he travelled 33,000 miles by sea, he never set foot on any land where the Union Jack did not fly. But it is not its mere immensity of area that dazzles his imagination. As he looks back over the teeming millions of the Orient living in happy contentment and prosperity under British-rule, he dwells upon the fact that “the Government, the commerce, and every form of enterprise in these countries are under the leadership and direction of but a handful of our countrymen, in order that we may realise the high qualities of the men who have won and who keep for us that splendid position.” Everywhere throughout the Empire he finds the gravest problems solved by free and liberal institutions. In New Zealand, the Maoris, once a brave and resolute foe, are now peaceful and devoted subjects of the King. In Canada he notes and admires the success which has crowned the efforts to weld into one community the peoples of its two great races. He went back to Canada a couple of years ago to see still further evidence of that miracle of justice—the joint commemoration in the Quebec pageant by French and British of the old wars of their ancestors.
But everywhere his steps he set, the Royal traveller was confronted with the spectacle of Britains beyond the seas lying empty or half empty. While yet a boy Prince George was mightily impressed with what may be described as the Imperial possibilities of emigration. When he visited Trinidad in 1880 the Royal diarists went into ecstasies over the importation of Indian coolies to open up the resources of that West Indian island:—
So intimate and mutually beneficial is the connection that binds together the several portions of the British Empire and enables the Hindoos of Asia to attain to freedom and plenty in the empty islands of the Caribbee in America.
THE KING AND TARIFF REFORM.
The King’s mind is possessed, some might almost say obsessed, by the notion of peopling the Dominions beyond the Sea by the overflow of the home population. It is this which made him in the days of his immaturity swallow so greedily the bait with which Mr. Chamberlain hooked so many gudgeons. It is a libel upon the King to describe him as a Protectionist. He is not the man to hoist the white flag over the citadel of Free Trade by an admission that we can no longer hold our own in our home market against rivals whom our fathers met and defeated in the open markets of the world, even when we were subjected to the handicap of hostile tariffs. Every Protectionist is a coward at heart, and as King George is no coward he is no Protectionist. But he was deceived by the glozing sophistry of the Mephistopheles from Birmingham with his subtle appeals to Imperial sentiment conveyed in promises of an immense Colonial development consequent upon the establishment of a system of Imperial preference. The whole drift of the King’s mind is towards the British Dominions beyond the Sea. How will this, that, or the other policy affect them?
HIS “WAKE UP” SPEECH.
Even his famous “Wake up” speech had, as the context proves, an exclusively Colonial aim. It was not, as has been often supposed, a general exhortation, like the “Wake up, John Bull,” which, as the title of a supplement to the Review of Reviews, had been inciting our public to a general pulling of themselves together to keep their place in the markets of the world. It was addressed primarily to our business people to induce them to maintain their pre-eminence in the Colonial trade, but its chief purpose was to emphasise as strongly as possible the King’s deep and passionate conviction that the great want of the Britains beyond the Sea is the want of population, and that no duty is more imperative than that of sending them of our best to fill up the wide, unpeopled expanses of fertile continents. As the speech may be regarded as that which sounds most clearly the thought of our new Sovereign, I quote this passage as it was reported in the papers of December 6, 1901:—
To the distinguished representatives of the commercial interests of the Empire, whom I have the pleasure of seeing here to-day, I venture to allude to the impression which seemed generally to prevail among their brethren across the seas, that the old country must wake up if she intends to maintain her old position of pre-eminence in her Colonial trade against foreign competitors. (Hear, hear.) No one who had the privilege of enjoying the experiences which we have had during our tour could fail to be struck with one all-prevailing and pressing demand—the want of population. Even in the oldest of our Colonies there were abundant signs of this need. Boundless tracts of country yet unexplored, hidden mineral wealth calling for development, vast expanses of virgin soil ready to yield profitable crops to the settlers. And these can be enjoyed under conditions of healthy living, liberal laws, free institutions, in exchange for the over-crowded cities and the almost hopeless struggle for existence, which alas! too often is the lot of many in the old country. (Hear, hear.) But one condition, and one only, is made by our Colonial brethren, and that is, “Send us suitable emigrants.” (Hear, hear.) I would go farther, and appeal to my fellow-countrymen at home to prove the strength of the attachment of the motherland to her children by sending to them only of her best. (Cheers.) By this means we may still further strengthen, or at all events pass on unimpaired, that pride of race, that unity of sentiment and purpose, that feeling of common loyalty and obligation which knit together and alone can maintain the integrity of our Empire. (Prolonged cheers.)
EMIGRATION AS A TEST OF IMPERIALISM.
How sane and sensible is this, and what a contrast does it afford to the almost incredible wickedness of the Daily Mail and other Protectionist papers which have all this spring been busy doing their uttermost to represent emigration—which the King regards as the great Imperial necessity—as if it were a more or less disreputable flight from Free Trade! The policy of these papers aptly illustrates how little they care for the Empire, and how hollow are the professions of Imperial patriotism by which they endeavour to conceal the hungry jaws of the Protectionist ravening for his prey.
HIS INDIAN TOUR.
Five years later the King, then Prince of Wales, returned to the City to give an account of his Indian tour. His speech on that occasion—May 17th, 1906—was more brilliant and more ornate, but not less characteristic. It differentiates the King still more clearly than before from the hateful advocate of race ascendency who so often arrogates to himself the exclusive right to be regarded as an Imperial patriot. Lord Morley ardently welcomed the Prince’s speech because he believed that it would have the effect all over India of uniting the Government and the governed. The King, it must be admitted, had a vantage ground which he used to some purpose. He had just returned from travelling over nine thousand miles of British territory in India and in Burma. His cousin, the Tsar, had made a portion of the same tour some years before, and had been painfully impressed by the utter lack of sympathy between the Anglo-Indians and the Indian population. “There is a great gulf fixed,” he told me, as he recounted his impressions. “It is not right to regard your fellow-men as if they were not human.” The King in his travels had evidently had it forced upon him that many an Anglo-Indian, with his insolent, arrogant air of superiority, is the worst enemy of the British Empire in India; so when he came home to the Guildhall he contrived to give these gentry a piece of his mind with such tact and good nature that the veriest bounder among them all could hardly take offence.
HIS PLEA FOR SYMPATHY.
He said :—
I have realised the patience, the simplicity of life, the loyal devotion, and the religious spirit which characterise the Indian peoples. I know also their faith in the absolute justice and integrity of our rule. I cannot help thinking, from all I have heard and seen, that the task of governing India will be made the easier if we on our part infuse into it a wider elemerj sympathy. I will venture to predict that to such sympathy there will be an ever-abundant and genuine response. may we not also hope for a still fuller measure of trait and confidence in our earnest desire and efforts to promote the well-being and to further the best interests of every class?
MR. KEIR HARDIE AND THE KING.
Mr. Keir Hardie said pretty much the same thing a year or two later—not altogether to the King’s good pleasure. But it required more courage for the Prince of Wales to say what he did than for Mr. Keir Hardie to bear his rugged testimony to the same truth. The Prince concluded his speech by saying:—
I would strongly suggest to those who are interested in the great questions which surround the India of to-day to go there and learn as much as is possible by personal observation on the spot. And I cannot but think that every Briton who treads the soil of India is assisting towards a better understanding with the Mother Country ; helping to break down prejudice ; to dispel misapprehension, and to foster sympathy and brotherhood. Thus he will not only strengthen the old ties, but create new ones, and so, please God, secure a better understanding and a closer union of hearts between the Mother Country and her Indian Empire.
Yet when Mr. Keir Hardie took this Royal advice the King-was far from satisfied with the result. The time may come, however, when the King may recognise that Mr. Keir Hardie was really acting in the spirit of the Royal speech at the Guildhall.
THE KING AND THE NATIVE RACES.
Few of the problems of Empire are more thorny than those which relate to the treatment of the native races. The King has ever shown himself keenly alive to the need for dealing with the natives with justice and with sympathy. There was no more characteristic speech delivered by the King in all his wanderings than that which he addressed to the chiefs of the Blackfoot Indians at Calgary, September, 1901. Alter a reference to the bad old days when the pipes were cold, the Prince addressed them as follows:—
Your requests will always be patiently listened to by those who have been sent by the King amongst you. The Indian is a true man and his words are true words, and he never breaks them. He knows that it is the same with the great King, my father, and with those whom he sends to carry out his wishes. His promises last as long as the sun shall shine and water shall flow, and care will ever be taken that nothing shall come between the love that there is between the great King and you, his faithful children. I wish to assure you that his Majesty, your greal. father, has as much love for you, his children of the «**ring son, as for his children of the rising sun.
It would be well if the King could address the same kind of talk to the natives of South Africa. They stand in sore need of someone to be their “great father.” The King saw many of the chiefs when he was in South Africa in 1901, and there is little doubt that his sympathies would be on the right side if, as is not improbable, the newly-federated States deal unjustly with h is children of the Southern Continent.
HIS ATTITUDE TO THE BOERS.
At first the King was biassed strongly against Mr. Kruger, and it is probable that he regarded the Jameson Raid very much from the point of view of Mr. Alfred Austin. But the lessons of the war came home to him as to other people, and no one rejoiced more heartily than he when the disastrous struggle came to an end. When he was at Cape Town he told the Colonists, who crowded round him with loyal addresses:—
I greatly deplore the continuance of the lamentable struggle which has so long prevailed within South Africa, and for the speedy termination of which the whole community fervently prays.
When they left Cape Town they bade farewell to the Colony, saying “that they can but reiterate the earnest hope that under Divine Providence peace may soon be restored throughout the land, and that a spirit of mutual forbearance and reconciliation may in due time be infused into the hearts of the people.” Their earnest prayer was granted. The Balmoral Castle, which was being got ready to take the Prince to open the United Parliament of South Africa, was an outward and visible sign of the pacification achieved by the triumph of the Pro-Boers which has made General Botha Premier of British South Africa.
HIS AUSTRALIAN IMPRESSIONS.
The King from his boyhood was much attracted by Australia and the Australians. These impressions were deepened when, eleven years after, he opened the Parliament of Federated Australia. The Royal Diary, when he was only fifteen, thus recorded the departure of the Princes from Australia:—
After England, Australia will always occupy the warmest corner of our hearts. We need scarcely say ” After England,” for are not both part and parcel of the same dear country ? What is ours is theirs, and what is theirs is ours. As our past history is theirs, so may their future be bound up with ours from Deration to generation. Our Australian fellow-subjects consist of the stoutest and staunchest English, Welsh, Scotch, and Irish men, who are showing, at the present time, an amount of energy and activity in all branches of commerce, education, government, and everything that makes a people great, which have never before been surpassed in the whole course of English story.
To this I add only one quotation from the speech which, fifteen years later, the Prince addressed to the Highland Society of London:—
Clanship and Patriotism are so inherent in the Scottish character that, to some, such a society as this may appear almost superfluous; but the further the limits of our Empire are extended the more cosmopolitan we grow. The wider our sympathies are expanded, the more we should bear in mind the words which I find in an account of the society, written nearly one hundred years ago, “that the glory of the Empire may be upheld in a united flag by keeping alive in its inhabitants the local distinctions of English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh, thereby creating a generous emulation between them which, under the direction of one free and paternal Government, may promote the good and glory of the whole.”
III.—THE KING AND THE CRISIS.
Will King George V. achieve as the crowning glory of his reign the federation of the Empire on the basis of Home Rule all round? At the Royal funeral last month the only constables in the procession who carried guns were the Royal Irish. The other constables had no use for powder and shot. The contrast was as significant as it was cruel. To maintain law and order in Ireland under the King’s Government, the King’s men must not hesitate to shoot. In all other parts of the three kingdoms the King’s men find a baton ample to vindicate his authority. That is the difference between government by consent and government by coercion. Will the King help us to Home Rule? There is one side of the King that would reply, “Is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing?” That is the old faded Jingo side, which welcomed the Jameson Raid and applauded Mr. Chamberlain’s heresies. But there is another side of him which, even though temporarily silenced, will inevitably make its voice audible in the near future.
THE KING OF HOME RULERS.
The essential characteristic of King George is that he is the King of the British Dominions beyond the Sea—where every subject of the King is a Home Ruler. His chief public work was the opening of the Federal Parliament of Australia. This was to have been followed by the opening of the United Parliament of South Africa. He has been much impressed by the reconciliation of the French Canadians, which he rightly declared to be the chief glory of British policy in the Dominion. Everywhere he has seen the same liberal policy of self-government and trust in the people followed by the same fruits of loyalty, peace, and prosperity. His fingers must itch to sign the law which will apply to his Irish subjects the same sovereign specific which has worked such miracles of healing in Canada, in Australia, and in South Africa.
The circumstances are propitious. The Constitutional crisis which has soon to be faced gives us an admirable opportunity of proving whether the art of constructive statesmanship remains amongst us. The King is always insisting upon the truth that the days of the Rule of Thumb have passed. Will he not endeavour to deal with the present crisis in a somewhat more scientific fashion than the hugger-mugger makeshift of Veto Resolutions or Rosebery Reforms? No one wants to prolong the crisis. No one wants a Dissolution. Everyone wants some kind of a settlement that will be a settlement not only of the Second Chamber but also of the Home Rule question. Why should we not recognise that the time has come for us to put the whole Constitution into the melting-pot and apply all our best available wit and wisdom to the task of evolving some workable machinery for the government of the Empire?
LORD ROSMEAD’S FORMULA.
“It is Federate or Perish,” said Lord Rosmead. “Home Rule may save the Empire yet. You will never federate unless you are driven to it, and in Home Rule you have the force necessary to compel you to seek the things which make for your good.” Does the King see that as clearly as did Lord Rosmead? Perhaps not yet. But already he sees men as trees walking, and ere long the scales may fall from his eyes.
CANON DALTON’S IDEALS.
Those who hold this sanguine view of the line which the new King may be advised to take on the radical reconstitution of the Constitution will do well to refer to a very remarkable paper read before the Colonial Institute by Canon Dalton just eight years ago. Canon Dalton, of course, spoke only for himself. But Canon Dalton had been for years a devoted advocate of Imperial federation. He was the governor of the two Princes on board the Bacchante, and afterwards he had accompanied the Prince of Wales as his invited guest on his visit to Australia on the Ophir.
THE PROBLEM TO BE FACED.
Starting from the dictum that it is certain that as the Colonies grow into powerful States there must be a change in the present arrangement, Canon Dalton pointed out there are now forty millions in the United Kingdom and twelve millions in the self-governing Colonies. That is to say, nearly one-third of the whole of our fellow-countrymen have no voice now in the formation of our foreign policy. Whether they approve or disapprove of it they have to take the risks and consequences attending it. Something, therefore, must be done. But what must that something be? I quote Canon Dalton’s own words:—
A regenerated Imperial Parliament would appear to be the proper organ to employ for Imperial purposes. The most natural and simple solution would be for the Imperial Parliament to delegate to the English, Scotch, and Irish people the management of their own national and domestic affairs, while retaining the supreme control of Imperial affairs in its own hands, and to it then the Colonial representatives could be admitted. The one great thing to insist upon is this, that if the Empire is to endure these domestic affairs must be entirely separated from the business of Imperial affairs—the supreme questions of peace and war, India, the Crown Colonies, and foreign affairs. The Imperial Executive and Parliament would then deal directly with everything that in fact affects the interests of the Empire as a whole. But all other administrative and legislative matters would have been delegated to one or more national executives and national legislatures. The number of members in the Imperial Parliament would, of course, be largely reduced. To sum up in few words, I would say: If you wish to work for the closer union of the Empire, consider and weigh well—(l) The possibility of separating Imperial from merely national matters. (2) Try to keep an open mind on the question of reciprocity of trade.
We need not disturb ourselves about the second clause. But the other suggestion is at this juncture a matter of first-class importance. We are face to face with Home Rule and a revision of the whole constitution of the Imperial Parliament. Why not kill two birds with one stone, and deal with both questions as if they were, as they are, integral fractions of one whole?
WHAT THE KING MIGHT DO.
The King can of course do nothing except on the advice of his Ministers. But if his Ministers refuse to give him what he considers good advice, he can dismiss them, and call to his councils other advisers who will give him the advice upon which he wishes to act. The constituencies of course in that case would have to be appealed to, and their vote would be decisive. It is by no means certain that the electors would not rally round the King if, while remaining scrupulously within the limits of the law and the Constitution, he did not hesitate to use the liberties allowed by the law within the limits of the Constitution in order to achieve what he believed to be a great and lasting benefit for the Empire. For the kingdom alone he might not think it worth while to take such risks; but for the Empire he might do it, and be encouraged to do it by the thought that he, and he alone, is M.P. for the British Dominions beyond the Sea. In pressing for such a constitutional reconstitution of the Imperial Parliament he would be speaking not merely as King, but as the only representative of twelve million British citizens beyond the seas.
WITHIN THE LINES OF THE CONSTITUTION.
Of course the King will loyally abide by the Constitution; that he has publicly declared. It was hardly necessary for him to make such a declaration; an unconstitutional King is unthinkable. But the British Constitution is very elastic. The prerogatives of the Crown are very vague; the present condition of Parties is very fluid; and if King George, inspired by what Lord Rosebery declares is his “honest, earnest and high-minded desire adequately to fill the sublime position to which he has been called,” should come to the conclusion that he ought to make a move in the direction of ascertaining what could be done in order to promote a peaceful settlement by consent of the outstanding constitutional difficulties, he might do much. Lord Rosebery certifies that he has an honest desire, and the complete capacity, to discharge the duties of King of Great Britain and Emperor of India “as adequately as man can discharge them.” If to this we add that he is also King of the British Dominions beyond the Sea, it can hardly be said that our new Sovereign will discharge his duties as “adequately as man can discharge them” if he takes no steps to ascertain whether or not a concordat can be arrived at between the two Parties for submission to the Colonies upon some such scheme as that which Canon Dalton foreshadowed. It is all very well saying that the Unionist Party can never agree to Home Rule. Considering the lengths to which Mr. Balfour, Mr. Wyndham and Sir Antony Macdonnell went, with the approval of the late King, in the direction of Devolution in Ireland, it is nonsense to talk about the attitude of the Unionist Party being one of uncompromising hostility to all movements in that direction.
THE UNIONIST NON POSSUMUS.
Mr. William O’Brien, who is at present in very close relations with certain members of the Conservative Party, has been declaring emphatically his belief that very little modification of the Nationalist attitude in Ireland would lead to the concession of Home Rule by general consent. William O’Brien is a sanguine man, but there is nothing inconceivable in the idea that the Conservatives will follow their traditional policy of carrying out the measures which once they bitterly opposed. It is the custom in this country for Liberals to start the hare and for the Tories to catch it. It was so in relation to the Corn Laws and in relation to Household Suffrage, and it may be so in relation to Home Rule. Anyhow, if King George should decide that the duty of his high position imposed upon him the attempt to promote a peaceful settlement of the Constitutional struggle, he can hardly do better than follow the lines laid down by his old governor, Canon Dalton. Such a policy would be enthusiastically received throughout Greats Britain. Whether the enterprise failed or whether it succeeded, it would equally mark out our new Sovereign as a man of initiative, courage, and for sight.
WILL HE TAKE THE RISK?
It is of course a policy not without its risks, but in the profession in which King George was reared men are accustomed to take risks, and a man who risks nothing gains nothing. There is no doubt that the reconciliation of Ireland and the amicable settlement of the feud between the Lords and the Commons would be a double triumph which would add glory to any reign. The King is young; he is ambitious; he is weighed down by the sense of a great inheritance. He has a profound sense of his dependence upon Almighty God, in Whom he has a simple sailor’s faith. He is passionately determined to wake up England, to impress upon her, in season and out of season, that the Empire has need of trained intellect in the development of its vast inheritance. A contributor to Fry’s Magazine, signing himself “Equerry,” wrote thus of the Prince before he became King:—
In all things the Prince believes in science. He sees that no nation can prevail in the struggle for existence which is not scientifically equipped. He deplores the excessive frivolity of Society, not because it appears wicked to him, but because it is unscientific, a childish travesty of real life.
THE MANTLE OF THE PEACEMAKER.
Before the beginning of the late reign the Duke of York had not learned to appreciate the supreme importance of peace among the nations. But this has grown with the years and the example of his father, and the world-wide recognition of the services of his father in the rôle of Peacemaker has done much to brighten and ripen his views on this matter. He is as strong as ever for a “two-keels-to-one” Navy, but that is a sine qua non for the security and independence of our Empire. He is also enthusiastic for the promotion of military training among our young people. He thinks that the cadet corps movement is a strong power for good, for besides the benefit of physical training it inculcates into the coming generation that spirit of subordination and esprit de corps which is so essential in the development of national character. But over and above all he is anxious to maintain international peace. When he uncovered the Champlain monument at Quebec last July he said:—
We recognise that the presence of representatives of France and the United States among us testifies to the growth of the spirit of friendliness between the nations. On that spirit the progress of humanity largely depends ; in it, I hope and believe, true progress will express itself more and more during the years to come. The high ideal of universal peace and brotheihood may be far from realisation, but every act that promotes harmony among the nations points the way towards its attainment.
I cannot sum up the aims and aspirations of King George better than in the concluding stanzas of Mr. Eric Mackay’s poem upon Imperial Federation:—
…this our glory still: to bear the palm In all true enterprise, And everywhere, in tempest and in calm, To front the future with unfearing eyes, And sway the seas where our advancement lies With freedom’s flag uplifted, and unfurled: And this our rallying-cry, whate’er befall, Good-will to men, and peace throughout the world, But England,—England,—England over all!