Britain’s Liberal Empire 1897–1921: Volume 1 of Imperial by Max Beloff

By Max Beloff

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8 B 21 BRITAIN'S LIBERAL EMPIRE outlook that brought Kipling close to Cecil Rhodes and Alfred Milner, two of the three men with whom he dined in April 1897 at the Atheneum to celebrate his election to the club. 1 An element of prophecy may be found in Kipling's perception that the kind of strength that made it possible for the area of civilization to be extended - whether manifest in the soldier or the civilian administrator or technician - would be sapped by an excessive indulgence in the merely verbal, in the proclamation of imposing principles unaccompanied by the will to make the effort needed if they were to triumph.

If colonies were burdens rather than assets and likely sources of international conflict, then this must apply as much to older colonies as to new ones. 26 DIAMOND JUBILEE colonies were to share the burdens of defence, equity suggested that they partake in the making offoreign policies out of which the need for military action might grow. But it was difficult to do this without taking an intimate part in the governmental arrangements of the metropolis, and to this there were technical objections - more cogent in the eighteenth century than after the invention of the steamship and the telegraph.

These various designs for the future depended upon estimates of what the United States' position would be, how far it would be prepared to co-operate in maintaining a settlement, and how far it would push its hostility to imperialism and its demand for freedom of the seas. The principal problems of the peace conference had, therefore, all been foreshadowed before hostilities ceased, but were complicated by the pressure of public opinion at once for a severe peace and for a rundown of British strength.

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